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ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 



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ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN 



BY 

GEORGE MACDONALD, LL.D. 

AUTHOR OF "ROBERT FALCONER," "DAVID ELGINBROD," 

"WILFRID CUMBERMEDE," "ST. GEORGE AND 

ST. MICHAEL," ETC., ETC 



***** a faith sincete 
Drawn from the wisdom that begins with fear. 

yfoRDSV/OKTH.—SecoMti Evening Voluntary, 



PHILADELPHIA: 

DAVID McKAY, PUBLISHER, 

6io SOUTH WASHINGTON SQUARE. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 



CHAPTER I. 



The farm-yard was full of the light of a summer noon- 
tide. Nothing can be so desolately dreary as full strong 
sunlight can be. Not a living creature was to be seen in 
all the square inclosure, though cow-houses and stables 
formed the greater part of it, and one end was occupied by 
a dwelling-house. Away through the gate at the other end, 
far off in fenced fields, might be seen the dark forms of 
cattle ; and on a road, at no great distance, a cart crawled 
along, drawn by one sleepy horse. An occasional weary 
low came from some imprisoned cow — or animal of the 
cow-kind ; but not even a cat crossed the yard. The doof 
of the barn was open, showing a polished floor, as empty, 
bright, and clean as that of a ball-room. And through the 
opposite door shone the last year's ricks of corn, golden in 
the sun. 

Now, although a farm-yard is not, either in Scotland or 
elsewhere, the liveliest of places in ordinary, and still less 
about noon in summer, yet there was a peculiar cause ren- 
dering this one, at this moment, exceptionally deserted and 
dreary. But there were, notwithstanding, a great many 
more people about the place than was usual, only they were 
all gathered together in the ben-end, or best room of the 
house — a room of tolerable size, with a clean boarded floor, 
a mahogany table, black with age, and chairs of like mate- 
rial, whose wooden seats and high straight backs were 
more suggestive of state than repose. Every one of these 
chairs was occupied by a silent man, whose gaze was cither 
fixed on the floor, or lost in the voids of space. Each wore 
a black coat, and most of them were in black throughout. 
Their hard, thick, brown hands — hands evidently unused to 
idleness — grasped their knees, or, folded in each other, 
rested upon them. Some bottles and glasses, with a plate 



2 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

of biscuits, on a table in a corner, seemed to indicate that 
the meeting was not entirely for business purposes ; and yet 
there were no signs of any sort of enjoyment. Nor was 
there a woman to be seen in the company. 

Suddenly, at the open door, appeared a man whose shirt- 
sleeves shewed very white against his other clothing, which, 
like that of the rest, was of decent black. He addressed 
the assembly thus: 

" Gin ony o' ye want to see the corp, noo's yer time." 

To this offer no one responded ; and, with a slight air of 
discomfiture, for he was a busy man, and liked bustle, the 
carpenter turned on his heel, and re-ascended the narrow 
stairs to the upper room, where the corpse lay, waiting for 
its final dismission and courted oblivion. 

" I reckon they've a' seen him afore," he remarked, as he 
rejoined his companion. " Puir fallow ! He's unco 
{uncoiithly) worn. There'll be no muckle o' him to rise 
again." 

" George, man, dinna jeest i' the face o' a corp," returned 
the other. " Ye kenna whan yer ain turn may come." 

" It's no disrespeck to the deid, Thamas. That ye ken 
weel eneuch. I was only pityin' the worn face o' him, 
leukin' up there atween the buirds, as gin he had gotten 
what he wanted sae lang, and was thankin' heaven for that 
same. I jist dinna like to pit the lid ower him." 

" Hoot ! hoot ! Lat the Lord luik efter his ain. The lid 
o' the coffin disna hide frae his een." 

The last speaker was a stout, broad-shouldered man, a 
stone-mason by trade, powerful, and somewhat asthmatic. 
He was regarded in the neighborhood as a very religious 
man, but was more respected than liked, because his forte 
was rebuke. It was from deference to him that the car- 
penter had assumed a mental position generating a poetic 
mood and utterance quite unusual with him, for he was a 
jolly, careless kind of fellow, well-meaning and good- 
hearted. 

So together they lifted the last covering of the dead, laid 
it over him, and fastened it down. And there was darkness 
about the dead; but he knew it not, because he was full of 
light. For this man was one who, all his life, had striven 
to be better. 

Meantime, the clergyman having arrived, the usual 
religious ceremonial of a Scotch funeral — the reading of the 
Word and prayer — was going on below. This was all that 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 3 

gave the burial any sacred eolemnity ; for at the grave the" 
Scotch terror of Popery forbids any observance of a 
religious character. The voice of the reader was heard in 
the chamber of death. 

" The minister's come, Thamas," 

" Come or gang," said Thomas, " it's muckle the same. 
The word itsel' oot o' his mou' fa's as deid as chaff upo' 
clay. Honest Jeames there'll rise ance mair ; but never a 
word that man says, wi' the croon o' 's heid i' the how o' 's 
neck, '11 rise to beir witness o' his ministrations." 

" Hoot, Thamas ! It's no for the likes o' me to flee i' 
your face — ^but jist say a fair word for the livin' ower the 
deid, ye ken." 

" Na, na. It's fair words maks foul wark ; and the wrath 
o' the Almichty maun purge this toon or a' be dune. 
There's a heap o' graceless gaeins on in't; and that puir 
feckless body, the minister, never gies a pu' at the bridle 
o' salvation, to baud them aff o' the scaur {cliff) o' hell." 

The stone-mason generally spoke of the Almighty as if 
he were in a state of restrained indignation at the wrongs he 
endured from his children. If Thomas was right in this, 
then certainly he himself was one of his offspring. If he 
was wrong, then .there was much well worth his unlearning. 

The prayer was soon over, and the company again seated 
themselves, waiting till the coffin should be placed in the 
hearse, which now stood at the door. 

" We'll jist draw the cork o' anither boatle," whispered a 
sharp-faced man to his neighbor. 

And rising, he opened two bottles, and filled the glasses 
the second time with wine, red and white, which he handed 
to the minister first. 

" Tak' a drappy mair, sir," he whispered in a coaxing, 
old-wivish tone ; " it's a lang road to the kirkyard." 

But the minister declining, most of the others followed 
his example. One after another they withdrew to the door, 
where the hearse was now laden with the harvest of the 
grave. 

Falling in behind the body, they moved in an irregular 
procession from the yard. Outside they were joined by 
several more in gigs and on horseback ; and thus they crept, 
a curious train, away towards the resting-place of the dead. 

It were a dreary rest, indeed, if that were their resting- 
place — on the side of a low hill, without tree or shrub to 
beautify it^ pf gven the presence of an old church to seem 



4 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

to sanctify the spot. There was some long grass in it, 
though, clambering up as if it sought to bury the grave- 
stones in their turn. And that long grass was a blessing. 
Better still, there was a sky overhead, in which men cannot 
set up any gravestones. But if any graveyard be the type 
of the rest expected by those left behind, it is no wonder 
they shrink from joining those that are away. 



CHAPTER II. 



When the last man had disappeared, the women, like 
those of an eastern harem, began to come out. The first 
that entered the deserted room was a hard-featured, 
reproachful-looking woman, the sister of the departed. She 
instantly began to put the place in order, as if she expected 
her turn to come on the morrow. In a few moments more 
a servant appeared, and began to assist her. The girl had 
been crying, and the tears would still come, in spite of her 
efforts to repress them. In the vain attempt to dry her eyes 
with the corner of her apron, she nearly dropped one of the 
chairs, which she was simultaneously dusting and restoring 
to its usual place. Her mistress turned upon her with a 
kind of cold fierceness. 

" Is that hoo ye shaw yer regaird to the deid, by brackin' 
the cheirs he left ahin' him ? Lat sit, an' gang an' luik for 
that puir doited thing, Annie. Gin it had only been the 
Almichty's will to hae ta'en her, an' left him, honest man ! " 

" Dinna daur to say a word again' the bairn, mem. The 
deid'll hear ye, an' no lie still." 

" Supperstitious quean ! Gang an' do as I tell ye this 
minute. What business hae ye to gang greetin' aboot the 
hoose ? He was no drap's bluid o' yours ! " 

To this the girl made no reply, but left the room in quest 
of Annie. When she reached the door, she stood for a 
moment on the threshold, and, putting her hand over her 
eyes, shouted ^^ Annie! '' But, apparently startled at the 
sound of her own voice where the unhearing dead had so 
lately passed, she let the end of the call die away in a 
quaver, and, without repeating it, set off to find the missing 
child by the use pf her eyes ^lone. First she went into the 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 5 

barn, and then through the barn into the stack-yard, and 
then round the ricks one after another, and then into the 
corn-loft ; but all without avail. At length, as she was 
beginning to feel rather alarmed about the child, she 
arrived, in the progress of her search, at the door of one of 
the cow-houses. The moment she looked round the corner 
into the stall next the door, she stood stock-still, with her 
mouth wide open. This stall was occupied by a favorite 
cow — brown, with large white spots, called thereiore Browme. 
Her manger was full of fresh-cut grass ; and half-buried in 
this grass at one end of the manger, with her back against 
the wall, sat Annie, holding one of the ears of the hornless 
Brownie with one hand and stroking the creature's nose 
with the other. 

She was a delicate child, about nine years old, with blue 
eyes, half-full of tears, hair somewhere between dark and 
fair, gathered in a silk net, and a pale face, on which a faint 
moon-like smile was glimmering. The old cow continued 
to hold her nose to be stroked. 

" Is na Broonie a fine coo, Betty ? " said the child, as the 
maid went on staring at her. " Puir Broonie ! Naebody 
mindit me, and' sae I cam' to you, Broonie." 

And she laid her cheek, white, smooth and thin, against 
the broad, flat, hairy forehead of the friendly cow. Then 
turning again to Betty, she said — 

" Dinna tell auntie whaur I am, Betty. Lat me be. I'm 
best here wi' Broonie." 

Betty said never a word, but returned to her mistress. 

" Whaur's the bairn, Betty ? At some mischief or ither, 
I'll wad." 

" Hoot ! mem, the bairn's weel eneuch. Bairns maunna 
be followed like carr {calves)." 

" Whaur is she ? " 

" I canna jist doonricht exackly tak upo* me to say," 
answered Betty ; *' but I hae no fear aboot her. She's a 
wise bairn." 

" Ye're no the lassie's keeper, Betty. I see I maun seek 
her mysel'. Ye're aidin' an' abettin' as usual." 

So saying, Auntie Meg went out to look for her niece. 
It was some time before the natural order of her search 
brought her at last to the byre. By that time Annie was 
almost asleep in the grass, which the cow was gradually 
pulling away from under her. Through the open door the 
child could see the sunlight lying heavy upon the hot stones 



6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

that paved the yard ; but in here it was so dark-shadowy 
and cool, and the cow was such good, kindly company, and 
she was so safe hidden from auntie, as she thought — for no 
one had ever found her there before, and she knew Betty 
would not tell — that, as I say, she was nearly asleep with 
comfort, half-buried in Brownie's dinner. 

But she was roused all at once to a sense of exposure and 
insecurity. She looked up, and at the same moment the 
hawk-nose of her aunt came round the door-cheek. Auntie's 
temper was none the better than usual that it had pleased 
the Almichty to take the brother whom she loved, and to 
leave behind the child whom she regarded as a painful 
responsibility. And now with her small, fierce eyes, and 
her big, thin nose — both red with suppressed crj-ing — she 
did not dawn upon the sense of Annie as an embodiment of 
the maternity of the universe. 

" Ye plaguesome brat ! " cried auntie ; " there has Betty 
been seekin' ye, and I hae been seekin' ye, far an' near, i' 
the verra rottan-holes ; an' here ye are, on yer ain father's 
bur>-in' day, that comes but ance — takin' up wi' a coo." 

But the causes of Annie's preference of the society of 
Brownie to that of auntie might have been tolerably clear 
to an onlooker, without word spoken. For to Annie and 
her needs, notwithstanding the humble four-footedness 
of Brownie, there was in her large mild eyes, and her hairy, 
featureless face, all nose and no nose, more of the divine 
than in the human form of Auntie Meg. And there was 
something of an indignation quite human in the way the 
cow tossed her bound head and neck towards the woman 
that darkened the door, as if warning her off her premises. 
But without a word of reply, Annie rose, flung her arms 
around Brownie's head, kissed the white star on her fore- 
head, disengaged herself from the grass, and got out of the 
manger. Auntie seized her hand with a rough action, but 
not ungentle grasp, and led her away to the house. The 
stones felt very hot to her little bare feet. 



CHAPTER III. 

By this time the funeral was approaching the churchyard 
at a more rapid pace ; for the pedestrians had dropped 
away one by one, on diverging roads, or had stopped and 
retraced their steps. But as they drew near the place, the 
slow trot subsided into a slow walk once more. To an 
English eye the whole mode would have appeared barbarous. 
But if the carved and gilded skulls and cross-bones on the 
hearse were ill-conceived, at least there were no awful 
nodding plumes to make death hideous with yet more of 
cloudy darkness ; and one of the panels showed, in all the 
sunshine that golden rays could yield, the Resurrection of 
the Lord — the victory over the grave. And, again, when 
they stopped at the gate of the churchyard, they were the 
hands of friends and neighbors, and not those of cormorant 
undertakers and obscene mutes, that bore the dead man to 
his grave. And, once more, if the only rite they observed, 
when the body had settled into its place of decay, was the 
silent uncovering of the head, as a last token of respect and 
farewell, it may be suggested that the Church of England 
herself, in all her beautiful service, has no prayer for the 
departed soul, which cannot be beyond the need of prayer, 
as the longings that follow it into the region of the Unknown, 
are not beyond its comfort. 

Before the grave was quite filled the company had nearly 
gone. Thomas Crann, the stone-mason, and George Mac- 
wha, the wright, alone remained behind, for they had some 
charge over the arrangements, and were now taking a share 
in covering the grave. At length the last sod was laid upon 
the mound, and stamped into its place, where soon the 
earth's broken surface would heal, as society would flow 
together again, closing over the place that had known the 
departed, and would know him no more. Then Thomas 
and George sat down, opposite to each other, on two neigh- 
boring tombstones, and wiping their brows, gave each a sigh 
of relief, for the sun was hot and oppressive. 

" Hech ! it's a wearj' warl," said George. 

" Ye hae no richt to say sae, George," answered Thomas, 
" for ve hae never met it, an' foughten wi' 't. Ye hae never 
draan the soord o' the Lord and o' Gideon. Ye hae never 



8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

broken the pitcher, to lat the lamp shine out, an' I doubt ye 
hae smo'red it by this time. And sae, whan the bridegroom 
comes, ye'll be ill-aff for a Hcht." 

" Hoot, man ! dinna speak sic awfu' things i' the verra 
kirkyard." 

" Better hear them i' the kirkyard than at the closed door, 
George i " 

" Weel, but," rejoined Macwha, anxious to turn the cur- 
rent of the conversation, which he found unpleasantly per- 
sonal, *' jist tell me honestly, Thamas Crann, do ye believe, 
wi' a' yer heart an' sowl, that the deid man — Gude be wi' 
him !— " 

" No prayin' for the deid i' my hearin', George ! As the 
tree falleth, so it shall lie." 

*' Weel ! weel ! I didna mean ony thing." 

" That I verily believe. Ye seldom do ! " 

"But I jist want to speir," resumed George, with some 
asperity, getting rather nettled at his companion's persistent 
discourtesy, " gin ye believe that Jeames Anderson here, 
honest man, aneath our feet, crumblin' awa', as ye ken, and 
no ae spoke o' his wheel to the fore, or lang, to tell what 
his cart was like — do ye believe that his honest face will, 
ae day, pairt the mouls, an' come up again, jist here, i' the 
face o" the light, the verra same as it vanished whan we pat 
the lid ower him ? Do ye believe that, Thomas Crann ? " 

" Na, na, George, man. Ye ken little what ye're busiest 
sayin'. It'll be a glorifeed body that he'll rise wi'. It's 
sown in dishonor, and raised in glory. Hoot ! hoot ! ye 
are ignorant, man ! " 

Macwha got more nettled still at his tone of superiority. 

" Wad it be a glorifeed timmer-leg he rase wi', gin he had 
been buried wi' a timmer-leg? " asked he. 

" His ain leg wad be buried some gait." 

" Ow ay ! nae doubt. An' it wad come happin' ower the 
Paceefic, or the Atlantic, to jine its oreeginal stump — wad 
it no ? But supposin' the man had been born wantin a leg 
— eh, Thamas ? " 

" George ! George ! " said Thomas, with great solemnity, 
" luik ye efter yer sowl, an' the Lord'ill luik after yer body, 
legs an' a' ! Man, ye're no convertit, an' hoo can ye unner- 
stan' the things o' the speerit ? Aye jeerin', an' jeerin' ! " 

" Weel ! weel ! Thamas," rejoined Macwha, mollified in 
perceiving that he had not altogether the worst in the tilt of 
\yords ; " I wad only tak' the leeberty o' thinkin' that, when 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 



He was aboot it, the Almighty micht as weel mak' a new 
body a'thegither, as gang patchin' up the auld ane. Sae I 
s' awa hame." 

'* Mind ye yer immortal pairt, George," said Thomas, 
with a final thrust, as he likewise rose to go home with him 
on the box of the hearse. 

" Gin the Lord tak's sic guid care o' the body, Thamas," 
retorted Macwha, with less of irreverence than appeared in 
his words, " maybe he winna objec' to gie a look ty my puir 
soul as weel ; for they say it's worth a hantle mair. I wish 
he wad, for he kens better nor me hoo to set aboot the 
job." 

So saying, he strode briskly over the graves and out of 
the churchyard, leaving Thomas to follow as fast as suited 
his unwieldy strength. 



CHAPTER IV. 



Meantime another conversation was going on in one of 
the gigs, as it bore two of the company from the place of 
tombs, which will serve a little for the purposes of this his- 
tory. One of the twain was a cousin of the deceased, 
already incidentally mentioned as taking some direction in 
the matter of refreshment. His name was no less than 
Robert Bruce. The other was called Andrew Constable, 
and was a worthy elder of the kirk. 

" Weel, Robert," began the latter, after they had jogged 
on in silence for half a mile or so, " what's to be done wi' 
little Annie Anderson and her Auntie Meg, noo that the 
douce man's gane hame, an' left them theroot, as't war ? " 

" They canna hae that muckle to the fore efter the doc- 
tor an' a' 's sattled for." 

" It's no to be thought. It's lang sin' ever he wrought a 
day's darg {contracted from '■daywerk ')." 

** Jeames Dow luikit weel after the farmin', though." 

" Nae doot. He's a guid servant that, to ony man heca's 
master. But there canna be muckle siller to the fore." 

A pause followed. 

" What think ye noo, Andrew ? " recommenced Bruce. 
" Ye're weel kent for an honest an' a langheided man. Do 



lO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ye think that folk wad expec' ony thing o' me gin the warst 
cam to the warst ? " 

" Weel, Robert, I dinna think there's muckle guid in 
luikin' to what fowk micht or micht not expec' o' ye." 

" That's jist what I was thinkin mysel' ; for, ye see, I hae 
a sma' family o' my ain to haud chowin' already." 

" Nae doot — nae doot. But — " 

" Ay, ay ; I ken what ye wad say. I maunna a'thegither 
disregaird what fowk think, 'cause there's the chop {shop) ; 
an' gin I ance got — no to say an ill name, but jist the wind 
o' no being sae considerate as I micht hae been, there's no 
sayin' but twa or three micht gang by my door, and cross to 
Jamie Mitchell's yonner." 

" Do ye what's richt, Robert Bruce, and sae defy fowk 
and fairy." 

" Na, na, that winna aye work. A body maun tak' care o* 
their ain, else wha's to do't ? " 

" Weel," rejoined Andrew with a smile, for he understood 
Bruce well enough, although he pretended to have mistaken 
his meaning — " weel, gin the bairnie falls to you, nae doot 
ye maun take chairge o' her." 

" I dinna mean Jeames Anderson's bairns — I mean my 
ain bairns." 

*' Robert, whatever way ye decide, I houp it may be sic a 
deceesion as will admit o' yer castin' yer care upo' Him." 

" I ken a' aboot that, Andrew. But my opeenion upo' 
that text is jist this — that ilka vessel has to haud the fill o' 
't, and what rins ower may be committed to Him, for ye can 
haud it no langer. Them that winna tak' tent {care) '11 tak 
scathe. It's a sweer {lazy) thochtless way to gang to the 
Almichty wi' ilka fash. Whan I'm driven to ane mair, that 
ane sail aye be Him. Ye min' the story about my namesake 
and the spidder ? " 

" Ay, weel eneuch," answered Andrew. 

But he did not proceed to remark that he could see no 
connection between that story and the subject in hand, for 
Bruce's question did not take him by surprise, it being well 
understood that he was in the habit of making all possible 
and some impossible references to his great namesake. 
Indeed, he wished every body to think, though he seldom 
ventured to assert it plainly, that he was lineally descended 
from the king. Nor did Andrew make further remark of 
any sort with regard to the fate of Annie or the duty of 
Bruce, for he saw that his companion wanted no advice— 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. II 

only some talk, and possibly some sympathy with his per- 
plexity as to what the world might think of him. But with 
this perplexity Andrew could accord him very little sympathy 
indeed ; for he could not take much interest in the buttress- 
ing of a reputation which he knew to be already quite 
undermined by widely-reported acts of petty meanness and 
selfishness. Nor was this fact much to be wondered at, if 
his principles were really those which he had so openly 
advocated. Indeed, Andrew knew well that it would be a 
bad day for poor Annie when she came under Bruce's roof, 
and therefore sincerely hoped that Auntie Meg might find 
some way of managing so as to avoid parting with the child; 
for he knew, too, that, though her aunt was fierce and hard, 
she had yet a warm spot somewhere about her heart. 

Margaret Anderson had known perfectly well for some 
time that she and Annie must part before long. The lease 
of the farm would expire at the close of the autumn of next 
year ; and as it had been rather a losing affair for some 
time, she had no inclination to request a renewal. When 
her brother's debts should be paid, there would not remain, 
even after the sale of the stock, more than a hundred and 
fifty pounds. For herself, she believed she must go into 
service — which would hurt her pride more than it would 
alter her position, for her hands had done far more of the 
necessary labor than those of the maid who assisted her. 
Indeed, in her proudest mood, she would have welcomed 
death rather than idleness. What was to become of Annie 
she did not yet see. 

Meantime there remained for the child just a year more 
of the native farm, with all the varieties of life which had 
been so dear to her. Auntie Meg did not spare to put her 
in mind of the coming change ; but it seemed to Annie so 
long in coming that it never would come. The impression 
was worn off by the daily attempt to deepen it, she gave her- 
self up to the childish pleasures within her reach, without 
thinking of their approaching loss. 



CHAPTER V. 

And why should Annie think of the future ? The future 
Was not : the present was — and full of delights. If she did 
not receive much tenderness from auntie, at least she was 
not afraid of her. The pungency of her temper was but as 
the salt and vinegar which brought out the true flavor of the 
other numberless pleasures around her. Were her excur- 
sions far afield, perched aloft on Bowie's shoulder, and 
holding on by the top of his head, or clinging to his back 
with her arms round his neck, at all the less delightful that 
auntie was scolding at home ? They would have been less 
delightful if she had thought of the future ; but she thought 
only of the present joy ; or rather she took it as it came, 
and let it play upon her, without thinking about it at all. 
And if she was late for one of her meals, for Annie had no 
very correct sense of the lapse of time, and auntie had 
declared she should go fasting, it was yet not without her 
connivance that rosy-faced Betty got the child the best of 
every thing that was at hand, and put cream in her milk, 
and butter on her oat cake, Annie managing to consume 
every thing with satisfaction, notwithstanding the hurdy- 
gurdy accompaniment of her aunt's audible reflection. And 
Brownie was always friendly ; ever ready on any serious 
emergency, when auntie's temper was still less placid than 
usual, to yield a corner of her manger for a refuge to the 
child. And the cocks and hens, even the peacock and the 
turkey-cock, knew her perfectly, and would come when she 
called them, if not altogether out of affection for her, at 
least out of hope in her bounty ; and she had not yet 
arrived at the painful wisdom of beginning to question 
motives — a wisdom which misleads more than it guides. 
She loved them, and that was enough for her. And she 
would ride the horses to water, sitting sideways on their 
broad backs like a barefooted lady ; for Dowie had such 
respect for his little mistress, as he called her, that he would 
never let her get astride " like a laddie," however much she 
wanted to do so. And when the morning was wet, and the 
sound of the flails came to her from the barn, she would 
watch for the moment when her aunt's back would be turned, 
and then scurry across the yard, like a mouse to its hole ; 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. IJ 

for auntie's first impulse was always to oppose whatever 
Annie desired. Once in the barn, she would bury herself 
like a mole in the straw, and listen to the unfailing metro- 
nome of the flails, till she would fall so fast asleep as to 
awake only when her uncomfortable aunt, believing that at 
last the awful something or other had happened to the royt 
lassie, dragged her out ignominiously by the heels. But the 
royt lassie was one of the gentlest of girls, what adventurous- 
ness she had being the result of faith, and not of hardi- 
hood. 

And then came the delights of the harvest-field — soon to 
become great golden splendors to the memory. With the 
reapers she would remain from morning till night, sharing 
in their meals, and lightening their labor with her gentle 
frolic. Every day, after the noon-tide meal, she would go 
to sleep on the shady side of a stook, upon two or three 
sheeves which Dowie would lay down for her in a choice spot. 
Indeed the little mistress was very fond of sleep, and would 
go to sleep anywhere ; this habit being indeed one of her 
aunt's chief grounds of complaint. For before hay-time, 
for instance, when the grass was long in the fields, if she 
came upon any place that took her fancy, she would tumble 
down at once, and show that she loved it by going to sleep 
upon it. Then it was no easy task to find her amidst the 
long grass that closed over her, as over a bird in its nest. 
But the fact was, this habit indicated a feebleness of con- 
stitution, to which sleep itself was the best restorative. 
And in the harvest-field, at least, no harm could come of it; 
for Dooie, as she ahvays called him, watched her like a 
mother ; so that sometimes when she awoke, she would find 
a second stook of ten sheaves, with a high-uplifted crowning 
pair above, built at right angles to the first to shelter her 
from the sun which had peered round the corner, and would 
soon have stared her awake. 

The only discomfort of the harvest-field was that the 
sharp stubble forced her to wear shoes. But when the corn 
had all been carried home, and the potatoes had been dug 
up and heaped in warm pits against the winter, and the 
mornings and evenings grew cold, and, though still friendly 
to strong men and women, were rather too keen for delicate 
little Annie — she had to put on both shoes and stockings, 
which she did not like at all. 

So with " gentle gliding," through a whole winter of ice 
and snow, through a whole spring of promises tardily ful- 



14 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

filled, through a summer of glory, and another autumn of 
harvest joy, the day drew on when they must leave the farm. 
And still to Annie it seemed as far off as ever. 



CHAPTER VI. 



One lovely evening in October, when the shadows were 
falling from the western sun, and the light that made them 
was as yellow as a marigold, and a keen little wind was just 
getting ready to come out and blow the moment the sun would 
be out of sight, Annie, who was helping to fasten up the 
cows for the night, drawing iron chains round their soft 
necks, saw a long shadow coming in at the narrow entrance 
of the yard. It came in and in ; and was so long in coming 
in, that she began to feel as if it was something not quite 
cannie, and to fancy herself frightened. But, at length, she 
found that the cause of the great shadow was only a little 
man ; and that this little man was no other than her father's 
cousin, Robert Bruce. Alas ! how little a man may cast a 
great shadow ! 

He came up to Annie, and addressed her in the smooth- 
est voice he could find, fumbling at the same time in his 
coat-pocket. 

" Hoo are ye the nicht, dawtie ? Are ye verra weel ? An* 
hoo's yer auntie ? " 

He waited for no reply to any of these questions, but 
went on. 

" See what I hae brocht ye frae the chop." 

So saying, he put into her hand about half-a-dozen sweet- 
ies, screwed up in a bit of paper. With this gift he left her, 
and walked on to the open door of the house, which, as a 
cousin, he considered himself privileged to enter unan- 
nounced even by a knock. He found the mistress of it in 
the kitchen, superintending the cooking of the supper. 

" Hoo are ye the nicht, Marget ? " he said, still in a tone 
of conciliatory smoothness, through which, however, he 
could not prevent a certain hardness from cropping out 
plentifully. " Ye're busy as usual, I see. Weel, the hand 
o* the diligent maketh rich, ye ken." 

" That portion o' the Word maun be o' leemited applica- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 15 

tion, I doot," returned Marget, as, withdrawing ner hand 
from her cousin's, she turned again to the pot hanging over 
the fire. " No man daurs to say that my han' has not been 
the han' o' the dihgent ; but Guid kens I'm nane the 
richer." 

" We maunna repine, Marget. Richt or wrang, it's the 
Lord's will." 

" It's easy to you, Robert Bruce, wi' yer siller i' the bank, 
to speik that gait til a puir lone body like me, that maun 
slave for my bread whan I'm no sae young as I micht be. 
No that I'm like to dee o' auld age either." 

" I haena sae muckle i' the bank as some folk may think ; 
though what there is is safe eneuch. But I hae a bonny 
business doun yonner, and it micht be better yet. It's jist 
the land o' Goshen, only it wants a wheen mair tap-dressin'." 

" Tak it frae the bank, than, Robert." 

" The bank ! said ye, Marget ? I canna do that." 

" And what for no ? " 

" 'Cause I'm jist like the hens, Marget. Gin they dinna 
see ae egg i' the nest, they hae no hert to lay anither. I 
daurna meddle wi' the bank." 

" Weel, lat sit than ; an' lay awa' at yer leisur '. Hoo's 
the mistress ? " 

" No that weel, and no that ill. The faimily's rather sair 
upo' her. But I canna baud her oot o' the chop for a' that. 
She's like mysel ' — she wad aye be turnin' a bawbee. But 
what are ye gaein to do yersel ', Marget ? " 

" I'm gaein to my uncle and aunt — auld John Peterson 
and his wife. They're gey and frail noo, and they want 
somebody to luik efter them." 

" Than ye're weel provided for ; Praise be thankit ! 
Marget." 

" Ow, ay ; nae doot," replied Marget, with bitterness, of 
which Bruce took no notice. 

"And what's to come o' the bairnie ?" pursued he. 

" I maun jist get some dacent auld body i' the toon to 
tak' her in, and lat her gang to the schuil. It's time. The 
auld fowk wadna pit up wi' her a week." 

" And what'll that cost ye, Marget ? " 

" I dinna ken. But the lassie's able to pay for her ain 
up-bringin'." 

" It's no far 'at a hunner and fifty'll gang i' thae times, 
woman. An' it's a pity to take frae the prencipal. She'll 
be merryin' some day." 



l6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Ow, 'deed, maybe. Bairns will be fules." 

" Weel, cud na ye pit it oot at five per cent., and there 
wad aye be something comin' o' *t ? That wad be seven pun 
ten i' the year, an' the bairnie micht amaist — no freely but 
nigh-han' — be broucht up upo' that." 

Margaret lifted her head and looked at him. 

" An' wha wad gie five per cent, for her bit siller, whan he 
can get it frae the bank, on guid security, for four an' a 
half?" 

" Jist mysel', Marget. The puir orphan has naebody but 
you and me to luik till ; an' I wad willin'ly do that muckle 
for her. I'll tell ye what — I'll gie her five per cent, for her 
siller ; and for the bit interest, I'll tak her in wi' my ain 
bairns, an' she s' hae bit and sup wi' them, an' gang to the 
school wi' them, and syne — efter a bit — we'll see what comes 
neist." 

To Margaret this seemed a very fair offer. It was known 
to all that the Bruce children were well-enough dressed for 
their station, and looked well-fed ; and although Robert had 
the character of being somewhat mean, she did not regard 
that as the worst possible fault, or one likely to operate for 
the injury of the child. So she told her cousin that she 
would think about it ; which was quite as m^uch as he could 
have expected. He took his leave all but satisfied that he 
had carried his point, and not a little uplifted with his pros- 
pects. 

For was it not a point worth carrying — to get both the 
money and the owner of it into his own hands ? Not that 
he meant conscious dishonesty to Annie. He only rejoiced 
to think that he would thus satisfy any expectations that the 
public might have formed of him, and would enjoy besides 
a splendid increase of capital for his business ; while he 
hoped to keep the girl upon less than the interest would 
come to. And then, if any thing should happen to her — 
seeing she was not over vigorous — the result was worth 
waiting for ; whereas — if she throve — he had sons 
growing up, one of whom might take a fancy to the heiress, 
and would have facilities for marrying her, etc., etc. ; for 
Grocer Robert was as deep in his foresight and scheming as 
King Robert, the crowning triumph of whose intellect, in 
the eyes of his descendant, was the strewing of the caltrops 
on the field of Bannockburn. 

But James Dow was ill-pleased when he heard of the 
arrangement — which was completed in due time. " For," 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. IJ 

said he, " I canna bide that Bruce. He's a naisty mean 
cratur. He wadna fling a bane till a dog, afore he had ta'en 
a pyke at it himsel'." He agreed, however, with his mis- 
tress, that it would be better to keep Annie in ignorance of 
her destiny as long as possible ; a consideration which 
sprung from the fact that her aunt, now that she was on the 
eve of parting with her, felt a little delicate growth of ten- 
derness sprouting over the old stone wall of her affection 
for the child, owing its birth, in part, to the doubt whether 
she would be comfortable in her new home. 



CHAPTER VII. 



A DAY that is fifty years off comes as certainly as if it 
had been in the next week ; and Annie's feeling of infinite 
duration did not stop the sand-glass of Old Time. The day 
arrived when every thing was to be sold by public rouJ>. A 
great company of friends, neighbors and acquaintances 
gathered ; and much drinking of whisky-punch went on in 
the kitchen as well as in the room where, a few months 
before, the solemn funeral-assembly had met. 

Little Annie speedily understood what all the bustle 
meant : that the day of desolation so long foretold by the 
Cassandra-croak of her aunt had at length actually arrived, 
and that all the things she knew so well were vanishing 
from her sight forever. 

She was in the barn when the sound of the auctioneer's 
voice in the corn-yard made her look over the half-door and 
listen. Gradually the truth dawned upon her ; and she 
burst into tears over an old rake which she had been accus- 
tomed to call hers, because she had always dragged it at 
hay-making. Then wiping her eyes hastily — for, partly 
from her aunt's hardness, she never could bear to be seen 
crying, even when a child — she fled to Brownie's stall, and 
burying herself in the manger, began weeping afresh. 
After a while the fountain of tears was for the time 
exhausted, and she sat disconsolately gazing at the old cow 
feeding away, as if food were every thing and a rouJ> nothing 
at all, when footsteps approached the fyre, and, to her 
dismay, two men, whom she did not know, came in, untied 



l8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Brownie, and actually led her away from before her eyes. 
She still stared at the empty space where Brownie had stood, 
— stared like a creature stranded by night on the low coast 
of Death, before whose eyes in the morning the sea of Life 
is visibly ebbing away, ^ At last she started up. How could 
she sit there without Brownie ! Sobbing so that she could 
not breathe, she rushed across the yard, into the crowded 
and desecrated house, and up the stair to her own little room, 
where she threw herself on the bed, buried her eyes in the 
pillow, and, overcome with grief, fell fast asleep. 

When she awoke in the morning she remembered nothing 
of Betty's undressing and putting her to bed. The dread- 
ful day that was gone seemed only a dreadful dream, that 
had left a pain behind it. But when she went out, she 
found that yesterday would not stay amongst her dreams. 
Brownie's stall was empty. The horses were all gone, and 
many of the cattle. Those that remained looked like creat- 
ures forgotten. The pigs were gone, and most of the 
poultry. Two or three favorite hens were left, which auntie 
was going to take with her. But of all the living creatures 
she had loved, not one had been kept for Annie. Her life 
grew bitter with the bitterness of death. 

In the afternoon her aunt came up to her room, where 
she sat in tearful silence, and telling her that she was going 
to take her into the town, proceeded, without further expla- 
nation, to put all her little personal effects into an old hair- 
trunk, which Annie called her own. Along with some 
trifles that lay about the room, she threw into the bottom of 
the box about a dozen of old books, which had been on the 
chest of drawers since long before Annie could remember. 
She, poor child, let her do as she pleased, and asked no 
questions ; for the shadow in which she stood was darkening, 
and she did not care what came next. For an hour the box 
stood on the floor like a coffin, and then Betty came, with 
red eyes and a red nose, and carried it down stairs. Then 
auntie came up again, dressed in her Sunday clothes. She 
put on Annie's best frock and bonnet — adorning the victim 
for sacrifice — at least, so Annie's face would have sug- 
gested — and led her down to the door. There stood a 
horse and cart. In the cart was some straw, and a sack 
stuffed with hay. As auntie was getting into the cart, 
Bettie rushed out from somewhere upon Annie, caught her 
up, kissed her in a vehement and disorderly manner, and 
before her mistress could turn round in the cart, gave her 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I9 

into James Dow'sanns, and vanished with strange sounds of 
choking. Dowie thought to put her in with a kiss, for he 
dared not speak ; but Annie's arms went round his neck, 
and she clung to him sobbing — clung till she roused the 
indignation of auntie, at the first sound of whose voice 
Dowie was free, and Annie lying in the cart, with her face 
buried in the straw. Dowie then mounted in front, with 
his feet on the shaft ; the horse — one Annie did not know — 
started off gently ; and she was borne away helpless to meet 
the unknown. 

And the road was like the going. She had often been 
upon it before, but it had never looked as it did now. The 
first half-mile went through fields whose crops were gone. 
The stubble was sticking through the grass, and the potato 
stalks, which ought to have been gathered and burned, lay 
scattered about all over the brown earth. Then came two 
miles of moorland country, high and bleak and barren, with 
hillocks of peat in all directions, standing beside the black 
holes whence they had been dug. These holes were full of 
dark water, frightful to look at ; while along the side of the 
road went deep black ditches half-full of the same dark 
water. There was no danger of the cart getting into them, 
for the ruts were too deep to let the wheels out ; but it 
jolted so dreadfully from side to side, as it crawled along, 
that Annie was afraid every other moment of being tilted 
into one of the frightful pools. Across the waste floated 
now and then a cry of a bird, but other sound there was 
none in this land of drearihead. Next came some scattered 
and ragged fields, the skirts of cultivation, which seemed 
to draw closer and closer together, while the soil grew 
richer and more hopeful, till, after two miles more, they 
entered the first straggling precincts of the gray market- 
town. 

By this time the stars were shining clear in the cold, 
frosty sky, and candles or train-oil lamps were burning in 
most of the houses ; for all these things took place long 
before gas had been heard of in those quarters, A few 
faces were pressed close to the window-panes as the cart 
passed ; and some rather untidy women came to the house- 
doors to look. And they spoke one to another words which, 
though inaudible through the noise of the cart, were yet 
intelligible enough to Annie, with her own forebodings to 
interpret the expression of their faces, 

" That'll be little Annie Anderson," they said, *' She's 



20 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

gaein hame to bide wi' her cousin, Robert Bruce, up i' the 
Wast Wynd. Puir wee lassie ! " 

For, on the way, Annie had been informed of her destination. 

But she was too miserable already, because of leaving her 
old home, to care much to what new one she was going. 
Had it not been for the absorption of this grief, she could 
not have been indifferent to the prospect of going to live 
with her cousin, although her dislike to him had never 
assumed a more active form than that of wishing to get 
away from him as often as he came near her. 

The cart stopped at Bruce's shop-door. It looked a 
heavy door, although the upper half was of glass — in small 
panes. Dowie got down and went into the shop ; and 
before he returned, Annie had time to make some listless 
observations. The house was a low one, although of two 
stories, built of gray stone, and thatched. The heavy door 
was between two windows belonging to the shop, in each of 
which burned a single tallow candle, revealing to the gaze 
of Annie, in all the enhancing mystery of candlelight, what 
she could not but regard as a perfect mine of treasures. 
For besides calico and sugar, and all the multifarious stock 
in the combined trades of draper and grocer, Robert Bruce 
sold penny toys, and halfpenny picture-books, and all kinds 
of confectionery which had been as yet revealed to the 
belated generations of Glamerton. 

But she had not to contemplate these wonders long from 
the outside ; for Bruce came to the door, and, having 
greeted his cousin and helped her down, turned to take 
Annie. Dowie had been before him, however, and now 
held the pale child silent in his arms. He carried her into 
the shop, and set her down on a sack that stood outside the 
counter, leaning against it. He then went back to his 
horse's head. 

The sack made no bad seat, for it was half-full of turnip- 
seed ; and upon it Annie sat, and drearily surveyed the 
circumstances. 

Auntie was standing in the middle of the shop. Bruce 
was holding the counter open, and inviting her to enter, 

" Ye'll come in and tak a cup o' tay, efter yer journey, 
Marget ? " said he. 

" Na, I thank ye, Robert Bruce. Jeames and I maun jist 
turn and gae hame again. There's a hantle to look efter 
yet, and we maunna neglec' oor wark. The hoose-gear's a' 
to be roupit the morn." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 2X 

Then turning to Annie, she said: 

" Nog, Annie, lass, ye'll be a guid bairn, and do as ye're 
tell't. An' min' and no pyke the things i' the chop." 

A smile of peculiar import glimmered over Bruce's face 
at the sound of this injunction. Annie made no reply, but 
stared at Mr. Bruce, and sat staring. 

" Good-by to ye, Annie ! " said her aunt, and roused her 
a little from her stupor. 

She then gave her a kiss — the first, as far as the child 
knew, that she had ever given her — and went out. Bruce 
followed her out, and Dowie came in. He took her up in 
his arms, and said : 

" Good-by to ye, my bonnie bairn. Be a guid lass and 
ye'll be ta'en care o'. Dinna forget that. Min' and say yer 
prayers." 

Annie kissed him with all her heart, but could not reply. 
He sat her down again, and went out. She heard the 
harness rattle, and the cart go off. She was left sitting on 
the sack. 

Presently Mr. Bruce came in, and passing behind his 
counter, proceeded to make an entry in a book. It could 
have been no order from poor, homeless Margaret. It was, 
in fact, a memorandum of the day and the hour when Annie 
was set down on that same sack — so methodical was he ! 
And yet it was some time before he seemed to awake to the 
remembrance of the presence of the child. Looking up 
suddenly at the pale, weary thing, as she sat with her legs 
hanging lifelessly down the side of the sack, he said — pre- 
tending to have forgotten her — 

" Ow, bairn, are ye there yet ? " 

And going round to her, he set her on the floor, and 
leading her by the hand through the mysterious gate of the 
counter, and through a door behind it, called in a sharp 
decided tone : 

" Mother, ye're wanted ! " 

Thereupon a tall, thin, anxious-looking woman appeared, 
wiping her hands in her apron. 

" This is little Miss Anderson," said Bruce, " come to 
bide wi's. Gie her a biscuit, and tak' her up the stair till 
her bed." 

As it was the first, so it was the last time he called her 
Miss Anderson, at least while she was one of his household. 
— Mrs. Bruce took Annie by the hand in silence, and led 
her up two narrow stairs, into a small room with a skylight. 



22 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

There, by the shine of the far-off stars, she undressed her. 
But she forgot the biscuit ; and, for the first time in her 
life, Annie went supperless to bed. 

She lay for a while trying to fancy herself in Brownie's 
stall among the grass and clover, and to get rid of the 
vague fear she felt at being in a strange place without 
light, for she found it unpleasant not to know what was 
next her in the dark. But the fate of Brownie and of 
every thing she had loved came back upon her ; and the 
sorrow drove away the fear, and she cried till she could cry 
no longer, and then she slept. It is by means of sorrow, 
sometimes, that He gives His beloved sleep. 



CHAPTER Vni. 



She woke early, rose and dressed herself. But there was 
no water for her to wash with, and she crept down stairs to 
look for help in this her first need. Nobody, however, was 
awake. She looked long and wistfully at the house-door, 
but seeing that she could not open it, she went back to her 
room. If she had been at home, she would soon have had 
a joyous good-morrow from the burst of fresh wind meet- 
ing her as she lifted the ready latch, to seek the companion- 
ship of yet earlier risers than herself ; but now she was as 
lonely as if she had anticipated the hour of the resurrec- 
tion, and was the little only one up of the buried millions. 
All that she had left of that home was her box, and she 
would have betaken herself to a desolate brooding over its 
contents ; but it had not been brought up, and neither could 
she carry it up herself, nor would she open it in the kitchen 
where it stood. So she sat down on the side of her bed, 
and gazed round the room. It was a cheerless room. At 
home she had had checkered curtains to her bed ; here 
there were none of any kind ; and her eyes rested on 
nothing but bare rafters and boards. And there were holes 
in the roof and round the floor, which she did not like. 
They were not large, but they were dreadful. For they 
were black, nor did she know where they might go to. 
And she grew very cold. 

At length she heard some noise in the house, and in hetr 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 2$ 

present mood any human noise was a sound of deliverance. 
It grew ; was presently enriched by the admixture of baby- 
screams, and the sound of the shop-shutters being taken 
down ; and at last footsteps approached her door. Mrs. 
Bruce entered, and finding her sitting dressed on her bed, 
exclaimed : 

" Ow ! ye can dress yersel' ! can ye ? " 

" Ay, weel that," answered Annie, as cheerily as she 
could. *' But," she added, " I want some water to wash 
mysel' wi'." 

" Come down to the pump, than," said Mrs Bruce. 

Annie followed her to the pump, where she washed in a 
tub. She then ran dripping into the house for a towel, and 
was dried by the hands of Mrs. Bruce in her dirty apron. — 
This mode of washing lasted till the first hoar-frost, after 
which there was a basin to be had in the kitchen, with plenty 
of water and not much soap. 

By this time breakfast was nearly ready, and in a few 
minutes more, Mrs. Bruce called Mr. Bruce from the shop, 
and the children from the yard, and they all sat round the 
table in the kitchen — Mr. Bruce to his tea and oat-cake and 
butter — Mrs. Bruce and the children to badly-made oatmeal 
porridge and sky-blue milk. This quality of the milk was 
remarkable, seeing they had cows of their own. But then 
they sold milk. And if any customer had accused her of 
watering it, Mrs. Bruce's best answer would have been to 
show how much better what she sold was than what she 
retained ; for she put twice as much water in what she used 
for her own family — with the exception of the portion des- 
tined for her husband's tea, v/hose two graces were long 
and strong enough for a better breakfast. But then his own 
was good enough, • 

There were three children, two boys with great jaws — the 
elder rather older than Annie — and a very little baby. After 
Mr. Bruce had prayed for the blessing of the Holy Spirit 
upon their food, they gobbled down their breakfasts with all 
noises except articulate ones. When they had finished — 
that is, eaten every thing up — the Bible was brought ; a 
psalm was sung, after a fashion not very extraordinary to 
the ears of Annie, or, indeed, of any one brought up in 
Scotland ; a chapter was read — it happened to tell the story 
of Jacob's speculations in the money-market of his day and 
generation ; and the exercise concluded with a prayer of a 
quarter of an hour, in which the God of Jacob especially 



24 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

was invoked to bless the Bruces, His servants, in their 
basket and in their store, and to prosper the labors of that 
day in particular. The prayer would have been longer, but 
for the click of the latch of the shop-door, which brought 
it to a speedier close than one might have supposed even 
Mr. Bruce's notions of decency would have permitted. And 
almost before the Amen was out of his mouth, he was out 
of the kitchen. 

When he had served the early customer, he returned, and 
sitting down, drew Annie towards him — between his knees, 
in fact, and addressed her with great solemnity. 

" Noo, Annie," said he, " ye s' get the day to play yersel'; 
but ye maun gang to the school the morn. We can hae no 
idle fowk i' this hoose, sae we maun hae nae words aboot 
it." 

Annie was not one to make words about that or any thing. 
She was only too glad to get away from him. Indeed the 
prospect of school, after what she had seen of the economy 
of her home, was rather enticing. So she only answered, 

" Verra weel, sir. Will I gang the day ? " 

Whereupon, finding her so tractable, Mr. Bruce added, in 
the tone of one conferring a great favor, and knowing that 
he did so, 

" Ye can come into the shop for the day, and see what's 
gaein on. Whan ye're a muckle woman, ye may be fit to 
Stan' ahin' the coonter some day yersel' — wha kens ? " 

Robert Bruce regarded his shop as his Bannockburn, 
where all his enemies, namely customers, were to be 
defeated, that he might be enriched with their spoils. It 
was, therefore, a place of so great interest in his eyes, that 
he thought it must be interesting to every body else. And, 
indeed, the permission did awake some ill-grounded expect- 
ations in the mind of Annie. 

She followed him into the shop, and saw quite a fabulous 
wealth of good things around her ; of which, however, lest 
she should put forth her hand and take, the militant eyes of 
Robert Bruce never ceased watching her, with quick-recur- 
ring glances, even while he was cajoling some customer into 
a doubtful purchase. 

Long before dinner-time arrived, she was heartily sick of 
the monotony of buying and selling in which she had no 
share. Not even a picture-book was taken down from the 
window for her to look at ; so that she soon ceased to admire 
even the picture-books — a natural result of the conviction 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 25 

that they belonged to a sphere above her reach. Mr. Bruce, 
on the other hand, looked upon them as far below the 
notice of his children, although he derived a keen enjoyment 
from the transference, by their allurements, of the half- 
pence of other children from their pockets into his till. 

" Naisty trash o' lees," he remarked, apparently for 
Annie's behoof, as he hung the fresh bait up in his window, 
after two little urchins, with bawbees to spend, had bought a 
couple of the radiant results of literature and art com- 
bined. " Naisty trash o' lees — only fit for dirrty laddies and 
lassies." 

He stood on the watch in his shop like a great spider that 
ate children ; and his windows were his web. 

They dined off salt herrings and potatoes — much better 
fare than bad porridge and watered milk. Robert Bruce 
the younger, who inherited his father's name and disposi- 
tion, made faces at Annie across the table as often as he 
judged it prudent to run the risk of discovery ; but Annie 
was too stupefied with the awful change to mind it much, 
and indeed required all the attention she had at command 
for the arrest of herring bones on the way to her throat. 

After dinner business was resumed in the shop, with at 
least the resemblance of an increase of vigor, for Mrs. 
Bruce went behind the counter, and gave her husband time 
to sit down at the desk to write letters and make out bills. 
Not that there was much of either sort of clerkship neces- 
sary ; but Bruce, like Chaucer's Man of Law, was so fond 
of business, that he liked to seem busier than he was. As 
it happened to be a half-holiday, Annie was sent with the 
rest of the children into the garden to play up and down 
the walks. 

*' An' min'," said Bruce, " an' haud oot ower frae the 
dog." 

In the garden Annie soon found herself at the mercy of 
those who had none. 

It is marvelous what an amount of latent torment there 
is in boys, ready to come out the minute an object presents 
itself. It is not exactly cruelty. The child that tears the 
fly to pieces does not represent to himself the sufferings the 
insect undergoes ; he merely yields to an impulse to disin- 
tegrate. So children, even ordinarily good children, are 
ready to tease any child who simply looks teasable, and so 
provokes the act. Now the Bruces were not good children, 
as was natural ; and they despised Annie because she was a 



26 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

girl, and because she had no self-assertion. If she had 
shown herself aggressively disagreeable, they would have 
made some attempt to conciliate her ; but as it was, she 
became at once the object of a succession of spiteful annoy- 
ances, varying in intensity with the fluctuating invention of 
the two boys. At one time they satisfied themselves with 
making grimaces of as insulting a character as they could 
produce ; at another they rose to the rubbing of her face 
with dirt, or the tripping up of her heels. Their persecu- 
tion bewildered her, and the resulting stupefaction was a 
kind of support to her for a time ; but at last she could 
endure it no longer, being really hurt by a fall, and ran cry- 
ing into the shop, where she sobbed out, 

" Please, sir, they winna let me be." 

" Dinna come into the chop wi' yer stories. Mak' it up 
amo' yersels." 

" But they winna m.ak' it up." 

Robert Bruce rose indignant at such an interruption of 
his high calling, and went out with the assumption of much 
parental grandeur. He was instantly greeted with a torrent 
of assurances that Annie had fallen, and then laid the 
blame upon them ; whereupon he turned sternly to her, and 
said — 

" Annie, gin ye tell lees, ye'll go to hell." 

But paternal partiality did not prevent him from reading 
them also a lesson, though of quite a different tone. 

" Mind, boys," he said, in a condescending whine, " that 
poor Annie has neither father nor mither ; an' ye maun be 
kind till her." 

He then turned and left them for the more important 
concerns within-doors ; and the persecution recommenced, 
though in a somewhat mitigated form. The little wretches 
were perfectly unable to abstain from indulging in a pleas- 
ure of such intensity. Annie had indeed fallen upon evil days. 

I am thus minute in my description of her first day, that 
my reader, understanding something similar of many follow- 
ing days, may be able to give due weight to the influence of 
other events, when, in due time, they come to be recorded. 
But I must not conclude the account without mentioning 
something which befell her at the close of the same day, 
and threatened to be productive of yet more suffering. 

After worship, the boys crawled away to bed, half-asleep 
already ; or, I should rather say, only half -awake from their 
prayers. Annie lingered. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 27 

" Can ye no talc' aff yer ain claes, as weel as pit them on, 
Annie ? " asked Mrs Bruce. 

" Ay, weel eneuch. Only I wad sair like a bittie o' can'le," 
was Annie's trembling reply, for she had a sad foreboding 
instinct now. 

" Can'le ! Na, na, bairn," answered Mrs. Bruce. "Ye s* 
get no can'le here. Ye wad hae the hoose in a low [flame) 
aboot oor lugs [ears). I canna affoord can'les. Ye can jist 
mak' a can'le o' yer ban's, and fin {feel) yer gait up the twa 
stairs. There's thirteen steps to the firs, and twal to the 
neist." 

With choking heart, but without reply, Annie went. 

Groping her way up the steep ascent, she found her room 
without any difficulty. As it was again a clear, starlit night, 
there was light enough for her to find every thing she wanted; 
and the trouble at her heart kept her imagination from being 
as active as it otherwise would have been, in recalling the 
terrible stories of ghosts and dead people with which she 
was far too familiar. She soon got into bed, and, as a pre- 
cautionary measure, buried her head under the clothes 
before she began to say her prayers, which, under the cir- 
cumstances, she had thought she might be excused for 
leaving till she had lain down. But her prayers were sud- 
denly interrupted by a terrible noise of scrambling and 
scratching and scampering in the very room beside her. 

" I tried to cry oot," she said afterwards, " for I kent 'at 
it were rottans ; but my tongue booed i' my mou' for fear, 
and I cudna speak ae word." 

The child's fear of rats amounted to a frenzied horror. 
She dared not move a finger. To get out of bed with those 
creatures runnmg about the room was as impossible as it 
was to cry out. But her heart did what her tongue could 
not do — cried out with a great and bitter cry to one who 
was more ready to hear than Robert and Nancy Bruce. 
And what her heart cried was this : 

" O God, tak care o' me frae the rottans." 

There was no need to send an angel from heaven in 
answer to this little one's prayer : the cat would do. Annie 
heard a scratch and a mew at the door. The rats made 
one frantic scramble, and were still. 

" It's pussy ! " she cried, recovering the voice for joy that 
had failed her -for fear. 

Fortified by her arrival, and still more by the feeling that 
she was a divine messenger sent to succor her because she 



c 



28 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

had prayed, she sprang out of bed, darted across the room, 
and opened the door to let her in. A few moments and she 
was fast asleep, guarded by God's angel, the cat, for whose 
entrance she took good care ever after to leave the door ajar. 
There are ways of keeping the door of the mind also, 
ready as it is to fall to, ajar for the cat. 



CHAPTER IX. 



" Noo, Annie, pit on yer bonnet, an' gang to the schuil 
wi' the lave (resf); an' be a good girrl." 

This was the Bruce's parting address to Annie, before he 
left the kitchen for the shop, after breakfast and worship 
had been duly observed ; and having just risen from his 
knees, his voice, as he stooped over the child, retained all 
the sanctity of its last occupation. It was a quarter to ten 
o'clock, and the school was some five minutes distant. 

With a flutter of fearful hope, Annie obeyed. She ran 
up stairs, made herself as tidy as she could, smoothed her 
hair, put on her bonnet, and had been waiting a long time 
at the door when her companions joined her. It was very 
exciting to look forward to something that might not be 
disagreeable. 

As they went, the boys got one on each side of her in a 
rather sociable manner. But they had gone half the dis- 
tance and not a word had been spoken, when Robert Bruce, 
junior, opened the conversation abruptly. 

" Ye'll get it ! " he said, as if he had been brooding upon 
the fact for some time, and now it had broken out. 

" What'll I get ? " asked Annie timidly, for his tone had 
already filled her with apprehension. 

" Sic lickins," answered the little wretch, drawing back 
his lips till his canine [teeth were fully disclosed, as if he 
gloated in a carnivorous sort of way over the prospect. 
" Wonna she, Johnny ? " 

'' Ay wuU she," answered Johnny, following his leader 
with confidence. 

Annie's heart sank within her. The poor little heart was 
used to sinking now. But she said nothing, resolved, if 
possible, to avoid all occasion for "getting it." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 29 

Not another word was spoken before they reached the 
school, the door of which was not yet open. A good many 
boys and a few girls were assembled, waiting for the master, 
and filling the lane, at the end of which the school stood, 
with the sound of voices fluctuating through a very com- 
prehensive scale. In general the school-door was opened 
a few minutes before the master's arrival, but on this occa- 
sion no one happened to have gone to his house to fetch 
the key, and the scholars had therefore to wait in the street. 
None of them took any notice of Annie ; so she was left to 
study the outside of the school. It was a long, low, thatched 
building, of one story and a garret, with five windows to 
the lane, and some behind, for she could see light through. 
It had been a weaving-shop originally, full of hand-looms, 
when the trade in linen was more prosperous than it was 
now. From the thatch some of the night's frost was already 
dripping in slow, clear drops. Past the door, which was on 
a line with the windows, went a gutter, the waters of which 
sank through a small grating a few steps further on. But 
there was no water running in it now. 

Suddenly a boy cried out : " The maister's comin' ! " and 
instantly the noise sunk to a low murmur. Looking up the 
lane, which rose considerably towards the other end, Annie 
saw the figure of the descending dominie. He was dressed 
in what seemed to be black, but was in reality gray, almost 
as good as black, and much' more thrifty. He came down 
the hill swinging his arms, like opposing pendulums, in a 
manner that made the rapid pace at which he approached 
like a long, slow trot. With the door-key in his hand, 
already pointing towards the key-hole, he went right 
through the little crowd, which cleared a wide path for him, 
without word or gesture of greeting on either side. I 
might almost say he swooped upon the door, for with one 
hand on the key, and the other on the latch, he seemed to 
wrench it open the moment he touched it. In he strode, 
followed at the heels by the troop of boys, big and little, 
and lastly by the girls — last of all, at a short distance, by 
Annie, like a motherless lamb that followed the flock, 
because she did not know what else to do. She found she 
had to go down a step into a sunk passage or lobby, and 
then up another step, through a door on the left, into the 
school. There she saw a double row of desks, with a clear 
space down the middle between the rows. Each scholar 
was hurrying to his place at one of the desks, where, as he 



3© ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

arrived, Vie stood. The master already stood in solemn 
posture at the nearer end of the room on a platform behind 
his desk, prepared to commence the extempore prayer, 
which was printed in a kind of blotted stereotype upon 
every one of their brains. Annie had hardly succeeded in 
reaching a vacant place among the girls when he began. 
The boys were as still as death while the master prayed ; 
but a spectator might easily have discovered that the chief 
good some of them got from the ceremony was a perfect 
command of the organs of sound ; for the restraint was 
limited to those organs ; and projected tongues, deprived 
of their natural exercise, turned themselves, along with 
winking eyes, contorted features, and a wild use of hands 
and arms, into the means of telegraphic dispatches to all 
parts of the room, throughout the ceremony. The master, 
afraid of being himself detected in the attempt to combine 
prayer and vision, kept his " eyelids screwed together tight," 
and played the spy with his ears alone. The boys and 
girls, understanding the source of their security perfectly, 
believed that the eyelids of the master would keep faith 
with them, and so disported themselves without fear in the 
delights of dumb show. 

As soon as the prayer was over they dropped, with no 
little noise and bustle, into their seats. But presently 
Annie was rudely pushed out of her seat by a hoydenish 
girl, who, arriving late, had stood outside the door till the 
prayer was over, and then entered unperceived during the 
subsequent confusion. Some little ones on the opposite 
form, however, liking the look of her, and so wishing to 
have her for a companion, made room for her beside them. 
The desks were double, so that the two rows at each desk 
faced each other. 

" Bible-class come up," were the first words of the master, 
ringing through the room, and resounding awfully in Annie's 
ears. 

A moment of chaos followed, during which all the boys 
and girls, considered capable of reading the Bible, were 
arranging themselves in one great crescent across the room 
in front of the master's desk. Each read a verse — neither 
more nor less — often leaving the half of a sentence to be 
taken up as a new subject in a new key ; thus perverting 
what was intended as an assistance to find the truth into a 
means of hiding it — a process constantly repeated, and with 
far more serious results, when the words of truth fall, not 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 31 

into the hands of the incapable, but under the protection of 
the ambitious. 

The chapter that came in its turn was one to be pondered 
over by the earnest student of human nature, not one to be 
blundered over by boys who had still less reverence for 
humanity than they had for Scripture. It was a good thing 
that they were not the sacred fountains of the New Testa- 
ment that they were thus dabbled in — not, however, that 
the latter were considered at all more precious or worthy ; 
as Saturday and the Shorter Catechism would show. 

Not knowing the will of the master, Annie had not dared 
to stand up with the class, although she could read very 
fairly. A few moments after it was dismissed she felt her- 
self overshadowed by an awful presence, and, looking up, 
saw, as she expected, the face of the master bending down 
over her. He proceeded to question her, but for some time 
she was too frightened to give a rational account of her 
acquirements, the best of which were certainly not of a kind 
to be appreciated by the master, even if she had understood 
them herself sufficiently to set them out before him. For, 
besides her aunt, who had taught her to read, and nothing 
more, her only instructors had been Nature, with her whole 
staff, including the sun, moon and wind ; the grass, the 
corn. Brownie the cow, and her own faithful subject, Dowie. 
Still, it was a great mortification to her to be put into the 
spelling-book, which excluded her from the Bible-class. 
She was also condemned to follow with an uncut quill, over 
and over again, a single straight stroke set her by the 
master. Dreadfully dreary she found it, and over it she 
fell fast asleep. Her head dropped on her outstretched 
arm, and the quill dropped from her sleeping fingers — for 
when Annie slept she all slept. But she was soon roused by 
the voice of the master. " Ann Anderson ! " it called in a 
burst of thunder to her ear ; and she awoke to shame and 
confusion, amidst the titters of those around her. 

Before the morning was over she was called up, along 
with some children considerably younger than herself, to 
read and spell. The master stood before them, armed with 
a long, thick strap of horse-hide, prepared by steeping in 
brine, black and supple with constant use, and cut into 
fingers at one end, which had been hardened in the fire. 

Now there was a little pale-faced, delicate-looking boy in 
the class, who blundered a good deal. Every time he did 
so the cruel serpent of leather went at him, coiling round 



32 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

his legs with a sudden, hissing swash. This made him cry, 
and his tears blinded him so that he could not even see the 
words which he had been unable to read before. But he still 
attempted to go on, and still the instrument of torture went 
swish-swash round his little thin legs, raising upon them, no 
doubt, plentiful blue wales, to be revealed, when he was 
undressed for the night, to the indignant ej^es of pitying 
mother or aunt, who would yet send him back to the school 
the next morning without fail. 

At length either the heart of the master was touched by 
the sight of his sufferings and repressed weeping, or he saw 
that he was compelling the impossible ; for he staid execu- 
tion, and passed on to the next, who was Annie. 

It was no wonder that the trembling child, who could 
read fairly, should yet, after such an introduction to the 
ways of school, fail utterly in making any thing like 
coherence of the sentence before her. What she would 
have done, had she been left to herself, would have been to 
take the little boy in her arms and cry too. As it was, she 
struggled mightily with her tears, and yet she did not read 
to much better purpose than the poor boy, who was still 
busy wiping his eyes with his sleeves, alternately, for he 
never had had a handkerchief. But being a new-comer, 
and a girl to boot, and her long frock affording no facilities 
for this kind of incentive to learning, she escaped for the 
time. 

It was a dreadful experience of life, though, that first 
day at school. Well might the children have prayed with 
David — " Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, for his 
mercies are great ; and let us not fall into the hand of 
man." And well might the children at many another 
school respond with a loud Amen ! 

At one o'clock they were dismissed, and went home to 
dinner, to return at three. 

In the afternoon she was set to make figures on a slate. 
She made figures till her back ached. The monotony of 
this occupation was relieved only by the sight of the execu- 
tion of criminal law upon various offending boys ; for, as 
must be already partially evident, the master was a hard 
man, with a severe, if not an altogether cruel temper, and a 
quite savage sense of duty. The punishment was mostly in 
the form of pandics, — blows delivered with varying force, 
but generally with the full swing of the tag, as it was com- 
monly called, thrown over the master's shoulder, and 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 33 

brought down with the whole strength of his powerful right 
arm upon the outstretched hand of the culprit. But there 
were other modes of punishment of which the restraint of 
art would forbid the description, even if it were possible for 
any writer to conquer his disgust so far as to attempt it. 

Annie shivered and quaked. Once she burst out crying, 
but managed to choke her sobs, if she could not hide her 
tears. 

A fine-looking boy, three or four years older than her- 
self, whose open countenance was set off by masses of dark 
brown hair, was called up to receive chastisement, merited 
or unmerited, as the case might be ; for such a disposition 
as that of Murdoch Malison must have been more than 
ordinarily liable to mistake. Justice, according to his idea, 
consisted in vengeance. And he was fond of justice. He 
did not want to punish the innocent, it is true ; but I doubt 
whether the discovery of a boy's innocence was not a dis- 
appointment to him. Without a word of expostulation or 
defense, the boy held out his hand, with his arm at full 
length, received four stinging blows upon it, grew very red 
in the face, gave a kind of grotesque smile, and returned 
to his seat with the suffering hand sent into retirement in his 
trowsers-pocket. Annie's admiration of his courage as well 
as of his looks, though perhaps unrecognizable as such by 
herself, may have had its share with her pity in the tears 
that followed. Somehow or other, at all events, she made 
up her mind to bear more patiently the persecution of the 
little Bruces, and, if ever her turn should come to be pun- 
ished, as no doubt it would, whether she deserved it or not, 
to try to take the whipping as she had seen Alec Forbes 
take it. Poor Annie! If it should come to that — nervous 
organizations are so different! 

At five the school was dismissed for the day, not without 
another extempore prayer. A succession of jubilant shouts 
arose as the boys rushed out into the lane. Every day to 
them was a cycle of strife, suffering and deliverance. 
Birth and death, with the life-struggle between, were 
shadowed out in it — with this difference, that the God of a 
corrupt Calvinism, in the person of Murdoch Malison, 
ruled that world, and not the God revealed in the man 
Christ Jesus. And most of them having felt the day more 
or less a burden, were now going home to heaven for the 
night. 

Annie, having no home, was amongst the few exceptions. 



34 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Dispirited and hopeless — a terrible condition for a child — 
she wondered how Alec Forbes could be so merry. But he 
had had his evil things, and they were over ; while hers 
were all about her still. She had but one comfort left — 
that no one would prevent her from creeping up to her own 
desolate garret, which was now the dreary substitute for 
Brownie's stall. Thither the persecuting boys were not 
likely to follow her. And if the rats were in the garret, so 
was the cat ; or at least the cat knew the way to it. There 
she might think in peace about some things about which 
she had never before seemed to have occasion to think. 



CHAPTER X. 



Thus at home, if home it could be called, and at 
school, Annie's days passed — as most days pass — with 
family resemblance and individual difference wondrously 
mingled. She became interested in what she had to learn, 
if not from the manner in which it was presented to her 
comprehension, yet from the fact that she had to learn it. 
Happily or unhappily, too, she began to get used to the 
sight of the penal suffering of her schoolfellows. Nor had 
any thing of the kind as yet visited her ; for it would have 
been hard for even a more savage master than Mr. Malison 
to find occasion, now that the first disabling influence had 
passed away, to punish the nervous, delicate, anxious little 
orphan, who was so diligent, and as quiet as a mouse that 
fears to waken a sleeping cat. She had a scared look too, 
that might have moved the heart of Malison even, if he 
had ever paid the least attention to the looks of children. 
For the absence of human companionship in bestial forms ; 
the loss of green fields, free to her as to the winds of 
heaven, and of country sounds and odors ; and an almost 
constant sense of oppression from the propinquity of one 
or another whom she had cause to fear, were speedily work- 
ing sad effects upon her. The little color she had died out 
of her cheek. Her face grew thin, and her blue eyes 
looked wistful and large out of their sulken cells. Not 
often were tears to be seen in them now, and yet they 
looked well acquainted with tears — like fountains that had 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 35 

been full yesterday. She never smiled, for there was noth- 
ing to make her smile. 

But she gained one thing by this desolation : the thought 
of her dead father came to her, as it had never come 
before ; and she began to love him with an intensity she 
had known nothing of till now. Her mother had died at 
her birth, and she had been her father's treasure ; but in 
the last period of his illness she had seen less of him, and 
the blank left by his death had, therefore, come upon her 
gradually. Before she knew what it was, she had begun to 
forget. In the minds of children the grass grows very 
quickly over their buried dead. But now she learned what 
death meant, or rather what love had been ; not, however, 
as an added grief : it comforted her to remember how her 
father had loved her ; and she said her prayers the oftener, 
because they seemed to go somewhere near the place 
where her father was. She did not think of her father 
being where God was, but of God being where her father 
was. 

The winter was drawing nearer too, and the days were 
now short and cold. A watery time began, and for many 
days together the rain kept falling without intermission. I 
almost think Annie would have died, but for her dead 
father to think about. On one of those rainy days, how- 
ever, she began to find that it is in the nature of good 
things to come in odd ways. It had rained the whole day, 
not tamely and drizzlingly, but in a real earnest, dancing 
and rebounding from the pools, and raising a mist by the 
very " crash of water-drops." Now and then the school 
became silent, just to listen to the wide noise made by the 
busy cataract of the heavens, each drop a message of good, 
a sweet returning of earth's aspirations, in the form of 
Heaven's Amoi ! But the boys thought only of the fun of 
dabbling in the torrents as they went home ; or the delights 
of net-fishing in the swollen and muddy rivers, when the 
fish no longer see their way, but go wandering about in 
perplexity, just as we human mortals do in a thick fog, 
whether of the atmosphere or of circumstance. 

The afternoon was waning. It was nearly time to go ; 
and still the rain was pouring and plashing around. In the 
gathering gloom there had been more than the usual amount 
of wandering from one part of the school to another, and 
the elder Bruce had stolen to a form occupied by some little 
boys, next to the one on which Annie sat with her back 



36 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

towards them. If it was not the real object of his expedi- 
tion, at least he took the opportunity to give Annie a spite- 
ful dig with his eibow ; which, operating even more power- 
fully than he had intended, forced from her an involuntary 
cry. Now the master indulged in an occasional refinement 
of the executive, which consisted in this : he threw the tawse 
at the offender, not so much for the sake of hurting — 
although that, being a not infrequent result, may be supposed 
to have had a share in the intention — as of humiliating ; for 
the culprit had to bear the instrument of torture back to the 
hands of the executioner. He threw the tawse at Annie, 
half, let us suppose, in thoughtless cruelty, have in evil jest. 
It struck her rather sharply, before she had recovered 
breath after the blow Bruce had given her. Ready to faint 
with pain and terror, she rose, pale as death, and staggered 
up to the master, carrying the tawse with something of the 
same horror she would have felt had it been a snake. With 
a grim smile he sent her back to her seat. The moment she 
reached it her self-control gave way, and she burst into 
despairing, though silent tears. The desk was still shaking 
with her sobs, and some of the girls were still laughing at 
her grief, when a new occurrence attracted their attention. 
Through the noise of the falling rain a still louder rushing 
of water was heard, and the ears and eyes of all sought the 
source of the sound. Even Annie turned her wet cheeks 
and overflowing eyes languidly towards the door. Mr. Mali- 
son went and opened it. A flood of brown water was pour- 
ing into the sunk passage already described. The grating 
by which the rain-torrent that flowed past the door should 
have escaped, had got choked, the stream had been dammed 
back, and in a few moments more the room itself would be 
flooded. Perceiving this, the master hastily dismissed his 
pupils. 

There could be no better fun for most of the boys and 
some of the girls, than to wade through the dirty water. 
Many of the boys dashed through it at once, shoes and all ; 
but some of the boys, and almost all the girls, took off their 
shoes and stockings. When Annie got a peep of the water, 
writhing and tumbling in the passage, it looked so ugly that 
she shrunk from fording it, especially if she must go in with 
her bare feet. She could not tell what might be sweeping 
about in that filthy whirlpool. She was still looking at it as 
it kept rising, in pale perplexity and dismay, with the for- 
gotten tears still creeping down her cheeks, when she was 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 37 

caught up from behind by a boy, who, with his shoes and 
stockings in one hand, now seated her on the other arrn. 
She peeped timidly round to see who it was, and the brave, 
brown eyes of Alec Forbes met hers, lighted by a kind, pity- 
ing smile. In that smile the cloudy sky of the universe 
gently opened, and the face of God looked out upon Annie. 
It gave her, for the moment, all that she had been dying for 
want of for many weeks — weeks long as years. She could 
not help it — she threw her arms round Alec Forbes's neck, 
laid her wet cheek against his and sobbed as if her heart 
would break. She did not care for the Bruces, or the rats, 
or even the school-master now. Alec clasped her tighter, 
and vowed in his heart that if ever that brute Malison lifted 
the tag toiler again, he would fly at his throat. He would have 
carried her all the way home, for she was no great weight ; 
but as soon as they were out of the house Annie begged him 
to set her down so earnestly, that he at once complied, and 
bidding her good-night, ran home barefoot through the 
flooded roads. 

The Bruces had gone on with the two umbrellas, one of 
which, more to her discomfort than protection, Annie had 
shared in coming to school ; so that she was very wet before 
she got home. But no notice was taken of the condition 
she was in ; the consequence of which was a severe cold 
and cough, which, however, were not regarded as any obsta- 
cles to her going to school the next day. 

That night she lay awake for a long time, and when at 
last she fell asleep, she dreamed that she took Alec Forbes 
home to see her father — out the street and the long road ; 
over the black moor and through the fields ; in at the door 
of the house, and up the stairs to her father's room, where 
he lay in bed. And she told him how kind Alec had been 
to her, and how happy she was going to be now. And her 
father had put his hand out of the bed, and laid it on Alec's 
head, and said : " Thank ye. Alec, for being kind to my poor 
Annie." And then she cried, and woke crying — strange tears 
out of dreamland, half of delicious sorrow and half of trem- 
bling joy. 

With what altered feelings she seated herself after the 
prayer, next day, and glanced round the room to catch a 
glimpse of her new friend ! There he was, radiant as usual. 
He took no notice of her, and she had not expected that he 
would. But it was not long before he found out, now that 
he was interested in her, that her cousins were by no means 



38 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

friendly to her ; for their seats were not far from the girl's 
quarter, and they took every sheltered opportunity of giving 
her a pinch or a shove, or of making vile grimaces at her. 

In the afternoon, while she was busy over an addition sum 
which was more than usually obstinate, Robert came 
stealthily behind her, and, licking his hand, watched his 
opportunity, and rubbed the sum from her slate. The same 
moment he received a box on the ear, that no doubt filled 
his head with more noises than that of the impact. He 
yelled with rage and pain, and, catching sight of the admin- 
istrator of justice as he was returning to his seat, bawled 
out in a tone of fierce complaint : " Sanny Forbes ! " 

" Alexander Forbes ! come up," responded the voice of 
the master. Forbes not being a first-rate scholar, was not a 
favorite with him, for Mr. Malison had no sense for what 
was fine in character or disposition. Had the name been 
that of one of his better Latin scholars, the cry of Bruce 
would most likely have passed unheeded. 

" Hold up your hand," he said, without requesting or 
waiting for an explanation. 

Alec obeyed. Annie gave a smothered shriek, and, 
tumbling from her seat, rushed up to the master. When 
she found herself face to face with the tyrant, however, not 
one word could she speak. She opened her mouth, but 
throat and tongue refused their offices, and she stood gasp- 
ing. The master stared, his arm arrested in the act to strike, 
and his face turned over hi 'j left shoulder, with all the black- 
ness of his anger at Forbes lowering upon Annie. He stood 
thus for one awful moment, then motioning her aside with a 
«weep of his head, brought down the tawse upon the 
hand which Alec had continued to hold outstretched, with 
the vehemence of accumulated wrath. Annie gave a chok- 
ing cry, and Alec, so violent was the pain, involuntarily 
withdrew his hand. But instantly, ashamed of his weak- 
ness, he presented it again, and received the remainder of 
his punishment without flinching. The master then turned 
to Annie ; and finding her still speechless, gave her a push 
that nearly threw her on her face, and said : 

" Go to your seat, Ann Anderson. The next time you do 
that I will punish you severely." 

Annie sat down, and neither sobbed nor cried. But it 
was days before she recovered from the shock. Once, long 
after, when she was reading about the smothering of the 
princes in the Tower, the whole of the physical sensations of 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 39 

those terrible moments returned upon her, and she sprang 
from her seat in a choking agony. 



CHAPTER XI. 



For some time neither of the Bruces ventured even to 
make a wry face at her in school; but their behavior to 
her at home was only so much the worse. 

Two days after the events recorded, as Annie was leaving 
the kitchen, after worship, to go up to bed, Mr. Bruce called 
her. 

" Annie Anderson," he said, "I want to speak to ye." 

Annie turned, trembling. 

" I see ye ken what it's aboot," he went on staring her 
full in the pale face, which grew paler as he stared. " Ye 
canna luik me i' the face. Whaur's the candy-sugar an' the 
prunes ? I ken weel eneuch whaur they are, and sae do ye." 

" I ken naething aboot them," answered Annie, with a 
sudden revival of energy. 

" Dinna lee, Annie. It's ill eneuch to steal, without 
leein'." 

" I'm no leein'," answered she, bursting into tears of indig- 
nation. " Wha said 'at I took them ? " 

" That's naething to the pint. Ye wadna greit that gait 
gin ye war innocent. I never missed ony thing afore. And 
ye ken weel eneuch there's an ee that sees a' thing, and ye 
canna hide frae hit." 

Bruce could hardly have intended that it was by inspira- 
tion from on high that he had discovered the thief of his 
sweets. But he thought it better to avoid mentioning that 
the informer was his own son Johnnie. Johnnie, on his 
part, had thought it better not to mention that he had been 
incited to the act by his brother Robert. And Robert had 
thought it better not to mention that he did so partly to 
shield himself, and partly out of revenge for the box on 
the ear which Alec Forbes had given him. The informa- 
tion had been yielded to the inquisition of the parent, who 
said with truth that he had never missed any thing before ; 
although I suspect that a course of petty and cautious pilfer- 
ing had at length passed the narrow bounds within which it 
could be concealed from the lynx eyes inherited from the 
kingly general. Possibly a bilious attack, which confined 



40 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the elder boy to the house for two or three days, may have 
had something to do with the theft ; but if Bruce had any 
suspicions of the sort, he never gave utterance to them. 

"I dinna want to hide frae 't," cried Annie. " Guid kens," 
she went on in desperation, " that I wadna touch a grain o' 
saut wantin' leave." 

" It's a pity, Annie, that some fowk dinna get their ain 
share o' Mr. Malison's tards." [Taj-ds was considered 
a more dignified word than, tag.) " I dinna like to lick ye 
mysel', 'cause ye're ither fowk's bairn ; but I can hardly 
hand my ban's off o' ye." 

It must not be supposed from this speech that Robert 
Bruce ever ventured to lay his hands on his own children. 
He was too much afraid of their mother, who, perfectly sub- 
missive and sympathetic in ordinary, would have flown into 
the rage of a hen with chickens if even her own husband 
had dared to chastise one of her children. The shop might 
be more Robert's than hers, but the children were more 
hers than Robert's. 

Overcome with shame and righteous anger, Annie burst 
out in the midst of fresh tears : 

"I wish auntie wad come an' tak me awa'! It's an ill 
hoose to be in." 

These words had a visible effect upon Bruce. He expected 
a visit from Marget Anderson within a day or two ; and he 
did not know what the effect of the representations of Annie 
might be. The use of her money had not been secured to 
him for any lengthened period — Dowie, anxious to take all 
precautions for his little mistress, having consulted a friendly 
lawyer on the subject, lest she should be left defenseless in 
the hands of a man of whose moral qualities Dowie had no 
exalted opinion. The sale having turned out better than 
had been expected, the sum committed to Bruce was two 
hundred pounds, to lose which now would be hardly less 
than ruin. He thought it better, therefore, not doubting 
Annie to be the guilty person, to count the few lumps of 
sugar he might lose, as an additional trifle of interest, and 
not quarrel with his creditor for extorting it. So with the 
weak cunning of his kind he went to the shop, and bringing 
back a bit of sugar-candy, about the size of a pigeon's egg, 
said to the still weeping child : 

" Dinna greit, Annie. I canna bide to see ye greitin'. 
Gin ye want a bittie o' sugar ony time, jist tell me, an' 
dinna gang helpin' yoursel'. That's a'. Hae." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 4I 

He thrust the lump into Annie's hand ; but she dropped 
it on the floor with disgust, and rushed up stairs to her bed 
as fast as the darkness would let her : where, notwithstand- 
ing her indignation, she was soon fast asleep. 

Bruce searched for the sugar-candy which she had 
rejected until he found it. He then restored it to the 
drawer whence he had taken it — which he could find in the 
dark with perfect ease — resolving as he did so, to be more 
careful in future of offending little Annie Anderson. 

When the day arrived upon which he expected Marget's 
visit, that being a Saturday, Bruce was on the watch the 
whole afternoon. From his shop-door he could see all 
along the street, and a good way beyond it ; and being very 
quick-sighted, he recognized Marget at a great distance by 
her shawl, as she sat in a slow-nearing cart. 

" Annie ! " he called, opening the inner door, as he 
returned behind the counter. 

Annie, who was up stairs in her own room, immediately 
appeared. 

" Annie," he said, " rin oot at the back door, and through 
the yard, and over to Laurie Lumley's, and tell him to come 
ower to me direckly. Dinna come back withoot him. 
There's a guid bairn ! " 

He sent her upon this message, knowing well enough 
that the man had gone into the country that day, and that 
there was no one at his house who would be likely to know 
where he had gone. He hoped, therefore, that she would go 
and look for him in the town, and so be absent during her 
aunt's visit. 

" Weel, Marget," he said, with his customary greeting, in 
which the foreign oil sought to overcome the home-bred 
vinegar, " hoo are ye the day ? " 

" Ow ! nae that ill," answered Marget with a sigh. 

" And hoo's Mr. and Mistress Peterson ? " 

" Brawly. Hoo's Annie comin' on ? " 

" Nae that ill. She's some royt {riotous) jist." 

He thought to please her by the remark, because she had 
been in the habit of saying so herself. But distance had 
made Annie dearer ; and her aunt's nose took fire with 
indignation, as she replied : 

" The lassie's weel eneuch. / saw naething o' the sort 
aboot her. Gin ye canna guide her, that's j^/zr wyte." 

Bruce was abashed, but not confounded. He was ready 
in a moment. 



42 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" I never kent ony guid come o' bein' ower sair upo' 
bairns," said he. " Slie's as easy guidit as a coo gaein' 
hame at niclit, only ye maun jist lat her ken that ye're 
there, ye ken." 

" Ow ! ay," said Marget, a little nonplussed in her turn. 

" Wad ye like to see her ? " 

"What ither did I come for?" 

" Weel, I s' gang and luik for her." 

He went to the back door, and called aloud : " Annie, 
yer auntie's here and wants to see ye." 

" She'll be here in a minute," he said to Marget, as he 
re-entered the shop. 

After a little more desultory conversation, he pretended to 
be surprised that she did not make her appearance, and 
going once more to the door, called her name several times. 
He then pretended to search for her in the garden and all 
over the house, and returned with the news that she was 
nowhere to be seen. 

" She's feared that ye're come to tak' her wi' ye, and she's 
run awa' oot aboot some gait. I'll sen' the laddies to luik 
for her." 

. " Na, na, never min'. Gin she disna want to see me, I'm 
sure I needna want to see her. I'll awa' doon the toon," 
said Margaret, her face growing very red as she spoke. 

She bustled out of the shop, too angry with Annie to say 
farewell to Bruce. She had not gone far, however, before 
Annie came running out of a narrow close, almost into her 
aunt's arms. But there was no refuge for her there. 

" Ye little limmer ! " cried Margaret, seizing her by the 
shoulder, " what gart ye rin awa' ? I dinna want ye, ye 
brat ! " 

" I didna rin awa', auntie." 

" Robert Bruce cried on ye to come in, himsel'." 

" It was himsel' that sent me to Laurie Lumley's to tell him 
to come till him direckly." 

Margaret could not make " head or tail " of it. But as 
Annie had never told her a lie, she could not doubt her. So 
taking time to think about it, she gave her some rough 
advice and a smooth penny, and went away on her errands. 
She was not long in coming to the conclusion that Bruce 
wanted to sunder her and the child ; and this offended her 
so much, that she did not go near the shop for a long time. 
Thus Annie was forsaken, and Bruce had what he wanted. 

He needed not have been so full of scheming, though. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 43 

Annie never said a word to her aunt about their treatment 
of her. It is one of the marvels in the constitution of 
children, how much they will bear without complaining. 
Parents and guardians have no right to suppose that all is 
well in the nursery or school-room, merely from the fact that 
the children do not complain. Servants and tutors may be 
cruel, and children will be silent — partly, I presume, because 
they forget so soon. 

But vengeance of a sort soon overtook Robert Bruce the 
younger ; for the evil spirit in him, derived from no such 
remote ancestor as the king, would not allow him a long 
respite from evil-doing, even in school. He knew Annie 
better than his father, that she was not likely to complain of 
any thing, and that the only danger lay in the chance of 
being discovered in the deed. One day when the master 
had left the room to confer with some visitor at the door, he 
spied Annie in the act of tying her shoe. Perceiving, as he 
believed, at a glance, that Alec Forbes was totally unob- 
servant, he gave her an ignominious push from behind, 
which threw her out on her face in the middle of the iioor. 
But Alec did catch sight of him in the very deed, was down 
upon him in a moment, and having already proved that a 
box on the ear was of no lasting effect, gave him a down- 
right good thrashing. He howled vigorously, partly from 
pain, partly in the hope that the same consequences as 
before would overtake Forbes ; and therefore was still howl- 
ing when Mr. Malison re-entered. 

" Robert Bruce, come up," bawled he, the moment he 
opened the door. 

And Robert Bruce went up, and notwithstanding his pro- 
testations, received a second, and far more painful punish- 
ment from the master, who, perhaps, had been put out of 
temper by his visitor. But there is no good in speculating 
on that or any other possibility in the matter ; for, as far at 
least as the boys could see, the master had no fixed principle 
as to the party on whom the punishment should fall. 
Punishment, in his eyes, was perhaps enough in itself. If he 
was capable of seeing XhdX piniishmcnt, as he called it, falling 
on the wrong person, was not punishme/it, but only suffering, 
certainly he had not seen the value of the distinction. 

If Bruce howled before, he howled tenfold now, and went 
home howling. Annie was sorry for him, and tried to say 
a word of comfort to him ; but he repelled her advances 
with hatred and blows. As soon as he reached the shop he 



44 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

told his father that Forbes had beaten him without his hav- 
ing even spoken to him, which was as correct as it was 
untrue, and that the master had taken Forbes' part, and 
licked him over again, of which latter assertion there was 
proof enough on his person. Robert the elder was instantly- 
filled with smoldering wrath, and from that moment hated 
Alec Forbes. For, like many others of low nature, he had 
yet some animal affection for his children, combined with 
an endless amount of partisanship on their behalf, which 
latter gave him full right to the national motto of Scotland. 
Indeed, for nothing in the world but money would he have 
sacrificed what seemed to him their interests. 

A man must learn to love his children, not because they 
are his, but because they are children., else his love will be 
scarcely a better thing at last than the party-spirit of the 
faithful politician. I doubt if it will prove even so good 
a thing. 

From this hatred to Alec Forbes came some small conse- 
quences at length. But for the present it found no outlet 
save in sneers and prophetic hints of an *' ill hinner en'." 



CHAPTER XII. 



In her inmost heart Annie dedicated herself to the serv- 
ice of Alec Forbes. Nor was it long before she had an 
opportunity of helping him. 

One Saturday the master made his appearance in black 
instead of white stockings, which was regarded by the 
scholars as a bad omen ; and fully were their prognostica- 
tions justified, on this occasion, at least. The joy of the 
half-holiday for Scotch boys and girls has a terrible weight 
laid in the opposite scale — I mean the other half of the day. 
This weight, which brings the day pretty much on a level 
with all other days, consists in a free use of the Shorter 
Catechism. This, of course, made them hate the Catechism, 
though I am not aware that that was of any great conse- 
quence, or much to be regretted. For my part, I wish the 
spiritual engineers who constructed it had, after laying the 
grandest foundation-stone that truth could afford them, 
glorified God by going no further. Certainly many a man 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 45 

would have enjoyed Him sooner, if it had not been for their 
work. But, alas ! the Catechism was not enough, even of 
the kind. The tormentors of youth had gone further, and 
provided what they called Scripture proofs of the various 
assertions of the Catechism ; a support of which it stood 
greatly in need. Alas ! I say, for the boys and girls who 
had to learn these proofs, called texts of Scripture, but too 
frequently only morsels torn bleeding and shapeless from 
" the lovely form of the Virgin Truth ! " For these tasks, 
combined with the pains and penalties which accompanied 
failure, taught them to dislike the Bible as well as the Cate- 
chism, and that was a matter of altogether different import. 

Every Saturday, then, Murdoch Malison's pupils had to 
learn so many questions of the Shorter Catechism, with 
proofs from Scripture ; and whoever failed in this task was 
condemned to imprisonment for the remainder of the day, 
or, at least, till the task should be accomplished. The 
imprisonment was sometimes commuted for chastisement — 
or finished off with it, when it did not suit the convenience 
of the master to enforce the full term of a school-day. Upon 
certain Saturdays, moreover, one in each month, I think, a 
repetition was required of all the questions and proofs that 
had been, or ought to have been, learned since the last observ- 
ance of the sam.e sort. 

Now the day in question was one of these of accumulated 
labor, and Alec Forbes only succeeded in bringing proof of 
his inability for the task, and was in consequence condemned 
" to be keepit in " — a trial hard enough for one whose chief 
delights were the open air and the active exertion of every 
bodily power. 

Annie caught sight of his mortified countenance, the 
expression of which, though she had not heard his doom, so 
filled her with concern and indignation, that — her eyes and 
thoughts fixed upon him, at the other end of the class — she 
did not know when her turn came, but allowed the master 
to stand before her in bootless expectation. He did not 
interrupt her, but with a refinement of cruelty that ought to 
have done him credit in his own eyes, waited till the univer- 
sal silence had at length aroused Annie to self-consciousness 
and a sense of annihilating confusion. Then with a smile 
on his thin lips, but a lowering thunder-cloud on his brow, 
he repeated the question : 

" What doth every sin deserve ? " 

Annie bewildered, and burning with shame at finding her- 



46 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

self the core of the silence — feeling as if her poor little spirit 
stood there naked to the scoffs and jeers around — could not 
recall a word of the answer given in the Catechism. So, in 
her bewilderment, she fell back on her common sense and 
experience, which, she ought to have known, had nothing to 
do with the matter in hand. 

" What doth every sin deserve ? " again repeated the 
tyrant. 

" A lickin','' whimpered Annie, and burst into tears. 

The master seemed much inclined to consider her con- 
demned out of her own mouth, and give her a whipping at 
once ; for it argued more than ignorance to answer a whip- 
pifig, instead of the wrath ajid curse of God, etc., etc., as 
plainly set down in the Scotch Targum. But reflecting, per- 
haps, that she was a girl, and a little one, and that although 
it would be more gratification to him to whip her, it might 
be equal suffering to her to be kept in, he gave that side 
wave of his head which sealed the culprit's doom, and Annie 
took her place among the condemned, with a flutter of joy 
at her heart that Alec Forbes would not be left without a 
servant to wait upon him. A few more boys made up the 
unfortunate party, but they were all little ones, and so there 
was no companion for Forbes, who evidently felt the added 
degradation of being alone. The hour arrived ; the school 
was dismissed ; the master strode out, locking the door 
behind him ; and the defaulters were left alone, to chew the 
bitter cud of ill-cooked Theology. 

For some time a dreary silence reigned. Alec sat with 
his elbows on his desk, biting his nails, and gnawing his 
hands. Annie sat dividing her silent attention between her 
book and Alec. The other boys were, or seemed to be, busy 
with their catechisms, in the hope of getting out as soon as 
the master returned. At length Alec took out his knife, and 
began, for very vacancy, to whittle away at the desk before 
him. When Annie saw that, she crept across to his form, 
and sat down on the end of it. Alec looked up at her, 
smiled, and went on with his whittling. Annie slid a little 
nearer to him, and asked him to hear her say her catechism. 
He consented, and she repeated the lesson perfectly. 

" Now let me hear you. Alec," she said. 

" Na, thank ye, Annie. I canna say't. And I wonna say't 
for a' the dominies in creation." 

" But he'll lick ye, Alec ; an' I canna bide it," said Annie, 
the tears beginning to fill her eyes. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 47 

"Weel, I'll try — to please you, Annie," said Alec, seeing 
that the little thing was in earnest. 

How her heart bounded with delight ! That great boy, 
SO strong and so brave, trying to learn a lesson to please 
her ! 

But it would not do. 

" I canna min' a w^ord o' 't, Annie. I'm dreidfu' hungry, 
forbye. I was in a hurry wi' my brakfast the day. Gin I 
had kent what was comin', I wad hae laid in a better stock," 
he added, laughing rather drearily. 

As he spoke he looked up ; and his eyes wandered from 
one window to another for a few moments after he had 
ceased speaking. 

*' Na ; it's no use," he resumed at last. " I hae eaten 
ower muckle for that, ony gait." 

Annie was as pitiful over Alec's hunger as any mother 
over her child's. She felt it pure injustice that he should 
ever be hungry. But, unable to devise any help, she could 
only say, 

" I dinna ken what ye mean, Alec." 

*' Whan I was na bigger than you, Annie, I could win oot 
at a less hole than that," answered he, and pointed to the 
open wooden pane in an upper corner of one of the windows ; 
"but I hae eaten ower muckle sin syne." 

And he laughed again ; but it was again an unsuccessful 
laugh. 

Annie sprang to her feet. 

" Gin ye could win throu that hole ance, I can win throu't 
noo, Alec. Jist baud me up a bit. Ye can lift me, ye ken." 

And she looked up at him shyly and gratefully. 

" But what will ye do when ye are oot, Annie ? " 

" Rin hame, and fess a loaf wi' me direckly." 

** But Rob Bruce'll see yer held atween yer feet afore he'll 
gie ye a loaf, or a mou'fu' o' cakes either ; an' it's ower far 
to rin tomy mither's. Murdoch wad be back lang or that." 

" Jist help me oot, an' lea' the lave to me," said Annie, 
confidently. " Gin I dinna fess a loaf o' white breid, never 
lippen [trust) to me again." 

The idea of the bread, always a rarity and consequent 
delicacy to Scotch country boys so early in the century as 
the date of my story, was too much for Alec's imagination. 
He jumped up, and put his head out of one of those open 
panes to reconnoiter. He saw a woman approaching whom 
he knew. 



48 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" I say, Lizzie," he called. 

The woman stopped. 

" What's yer wull, Maister Alec ? " 

" Jist Stan' there an' pu' this lassie oot. We're a' keepit 
in thegither, and nearhan' hungert." 

*' The Lord preserve 's ! LU gang for the key." 

" Na, na ; tee wad hae to pay for that. Take her oot — 
that's a' we want." 

" He's a coorse crayter — that maister o' yours. I wad 
gang to see him hangt." 

" Bide a wee ; that'll come in guid time," said Alec, 
pseudo-prophetically. 

" Weel I s' hae a pu' at the legs o' him, to help him to 
jeedgement ; for he'll be the deith o' ane or twa o' ye afore 
lang." 

" Never min' Murder Malison. Will ye tak oot the bit 
lassie ? " 

" Od will I ! Whaur is she ? " 

Alec jumped down and held her up to the open pane, not 
a foot square. He told her to put her arms through first. 
Then between them they got her head through, whereupon 
Lizzie caught hold of her — so low was the school-room — 
and dragged her out, and set her on her feet. But alas, a 
window was broken in the process ! 

" Noo, Annie," cried Alec, " never min' the window. 
Rin." 

She was off like a live bullet. 

She scampered home prepared to encounter all dangers. 
The worst of them all to her mind was the danger of not 
succeeding, and of so breaking faith with Alec. She had 
sixpence of her own in coppers in her box, — the only difli- 
culty was to get into the house and out again without being 
seen. By employing the utmost care and circumspection, 
she got in by the back or house door unperceived, and so up 
to her room. Li a moment more the six pennies were in 
her hand, and she in the street ; for she did not use the 
same amount of precaution in getting out again, not mind- 
ing discovery so much now, if she could only have a fair 
start. No one followed her, however. She bolted into a 
baker's shop. 

" A saxpenny-loaf," .she panted out. 

" Wha wants it ? " asked the baker's wife. 

" There's the bawbees," answered Annie, laying them on 
the counter. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 49 

The baker's wife gave her the loaf, with the biscuit which, 
from time immemorial, had always graced a purchase to the 
amount of sixpence ; and Annie sped back to the school like 
a runaway horse to his stable. 

As she approached, out popped the head of Alec Forbes. 
He had been listening for the sound of her feet. She held 
up the loaf as high as she could, and he stretched down as 
low as he could, and so their hands met on the loaf. 

"Thank ye, Annie," said Alec with earnestness. "Ishanna 
forget this. Hoo got ye't ? " 

" Never ye min' that. I didna steal't," answered Annie. 
" But I maun win in again," she added, suddenly awaking 
to that difficult necessity, and looking up at the window 
above her head. 

" I'm a predestined idiot ! " said Alec, with an impious 
allusion to the Shorter Catechism, as he scratched his help- 
less head. " I never thocht o' that." 

It was clearly impossible. 

" Ve'll catch't," said one of the urchins to Annie, with his 
nose flattened against the window. 

The roses of Annie's face turned pale, but she answered 
stoutly : 

" Weel ! I care as little as the lave o' ye, I'm thinkin'." 

By this time the " idiot " had made up his mind. He 
never could make up any other than a bull-headed mind. 

" Rin hame, Annie," he said ; *' and gin Murder offers to 
lay a finger o' ye upo' Monday, /'// murder him. Faith ! 
I'll kill him. Rin hame afore he comes and catches ye at 
the window." 

" No, no, Alec," pleaded Annie. 

" Haud yer tongue," interrupted Alec, " and rin, will ye ?" 

Seeing he was quite determined, Annie, though loth to 
leave him, and in terror of what was implied in the threats 
he uttered against the master and might be involved in the 
execution of them, obeyed him and walked leisurely home, 
avoiding the quarters in which there was a chance of meet- 
ing her gaoler. 

She found that no one had observed her former visit ; the 
only remarks made being some ^t't'^/v ones about the disgrace 
of being kept in. 

When Mr. Malison returned to the school about four 
o'clock, he found all quiet as death. The boys appeared 
totally absorbed in committing the Shorter Catechism, as if 
the Shorter Catechism was a sin, which perhaps it was not. 



50 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

But, to his surprise, which he pretended to be considerably 
greater than it really was, the girl was absent. 

" Where is Ann Anderson ? " were the first words he con- 
descended to utter. 

" Gane hame," cried two of the little prisoners. 

" Gone home ! " echoed the master in a tone of savage 
incredulity ; although not only was it plain that she was 
gone, but he must have known well enough, from former 
experience, how her escape had been effected. 

" Yes," said Forbes ; " it was me made her go. I put her 
out at the window. And I broke the window," he added, 
knowing that it must soon be found out, "but I'll get it 
mended on Monday." 

Malison turned as white as a sheet with venomous rage. 
Indeed, the hopelessness of the situation had made Alec 
speak with too much nonchalance. 

Anxious to curry favor, the third youngster now called 
out, 

" Sandy Forbes gart her gang an' fess a loaf o' white 
breid." 

Of this bread, the wretched informer had still some of the 
crumbs sticking to his jacket — so vitiating is the influence 
of a reign of terror. The bread was eaten, and the giver 
might be betrayed in the hope of gaining a little favor with 
the tyrant. 

"Alexander Forbes, come up." 

Beyond this point I will not here prosecute the narrative. 

Alec bore his punishment with great firmness, although 
there were few beholders, and none of them worth consider- 
ing. After he had spent his wrath, the master allowed 
them all to depart without further reference to the Shorter 
Catechism. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



The Sunday following was any thing but a day of repose 
for Annie — she looked with such frightful anticipation to 
the coming Monday. Nor was -the assurance with which 
Alec Forbes had sent her away, and which she was far from 
forgetting, by any means productive of unmingled consola- 
tion ; for, in a conflict with such a power of darkness as 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. $1 

Mr. Malison, how could Alec, even if sure to be victorious 
as any knight of old story, come off without injury terrible 
and not to be conternplated ! Yet, strange to tell — or was 
it really strange ? — as she listened to the evening sermon, a 
sermon quietly and gently enforcing the fate of the ungodly, 
it was not without exultation at the tardy justice that would 
overtake such men as Murdoch Malison or Robert Bruce, 
nor yet with pity for their fate, that she listened ; but with 
anxious heart-aching fear for her friend, the noble, the gen- 
erous Alec Forbes, who withstood authority, and was there- 
fore in danger of hell-fire. About her own doom, specula- 
tion was uninteresting. 

The awful morning dawned. When she woke, and the 
thought of what she had to meet came back on her, though 
it could hardly be said to have been a moment absent all 
night long, she turned, not metaphorically, but physically 
sick. Yet breakfast time would come, and worship did not 
fail to follow, and then to school she must go. There all 
went on as usual for some time. The Bible-class was called 
up, heard and dismissed ; and Annie was beginning to hope 
that the whole affair was somehow or other wrapped up and 
laid by. She had heard nothing of Alec's fate after she had 
left him imprisoned, and except a certain stoniness in his 
look, which a single glance discovered, his face gave no 
sign. She dared not lift her eyes from the spelling-book 
before her, to look in the direction of the master. No mur- 
derer could have felt more keenly as if all the universe were 
one eye, and that eye fixed on him, than Annie. 

Suddenly the awful voice resounded through the school, 
and the words it uttered — though even after she heard them 
it seemed too terrible to be true — were, 

" Ann Anderson, come up." 

For a moment she lost consciousness — or at least memory. 
When she recovered herself, she found herself standing 
before the master. His voice seemed to have left two or 
three unanswered questions somewhere in her head. What 
they were she had no idea. But presently he spoke again, 
and, from the tone, what he said was evidently the repeti- 
tion of a question — probably put more than once before. 

" Did you, or did you not, go out at the window on Satur- 
day ?" 

She did not see that Alec Forbes had left his seat, and was 
slowly lessening the distance between them and him. 

*'Yes," she answered, trembling from head to foot. 



52 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Did you, or did you not, bring a loaf of bread to those 
who were kept in ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Where did you get it ? " 

" I bought it, sir." 

" Where did you get the money ? " 

Of course every eye in the school was fixed upon her, 
those of her cousins sparkling with delight. 

" I got it oot o' my ain kist, sir." 

" Hold up your hand." 

Annie obeyed, with a most pathetic dumb terror pleading 
in her face. 

" Don't touch her," said Alec Forbes, stepping between 
the executioner and his victim. " You know well enough it 
was all my fault. I told you so on Saturday." 

Murder Malison, as the boys called him, turned with the 
tawse on his shoulder, whence it had been on the point of 
swooping upon Annie, and answered him with a hissing 
blow over his down-bent head, followed by a succession of 
furious blows upon every part of his person, as it twisted 
and writhed and doubled ; till, making no attempt at resist- 
ance, he was knocked down by the storm, and lay prostrate 
under the fierce lashes, the master holding him down with 
one foot, and laying on with the whole force of the opposite 
arm. At length Malison stopped, exhausted, and turning, 
white with rage, towards Annie, who was almost in a fit with 
agony, repeated the order : 

" Hold up your hand." 

But as he turned Alec bounded to his feet, his face glow- 
ing and his eyes flashing, and getting round in front, sprang 
at the master's throat, just as the tawse was descending. 
Malison threw him off, and lifting his weapon once more, 
swept it with a stinging lash round his head and face. Alec, 
feeling that this was no occasion on which to regard the 
rules of fair fight, stooped his head, and rushed, like a ram, 
or a negro, full tilt against the pit of Malison's stomach, and 
doubling him up, sent him with a crash into the peat fire 
which was glowing on the hearth. In the attempt to save 
himself, he thrust his hand right into it, and Alec and Annie 
were avenged. 

Alec rushed to drag him off the fire ; but he was up 
before he reached him. 

" Go home ! " he bawled to the scholars generally, and 
sat down at his desk to hide his suffering. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 53 

For one brief moment there was silence. Then a tumult 
arose, a shouting, and hallooing, and screeching, and the 
whole school rushed to the door, as if the devil had been 
after them to catch the hindmost. Strange uproar invaded 
the ears of Glamerton — strange, that is, at eleven o'clock in 
the forenoon of Monday — the uproar of jubilant freedom. 

But the culprits, Annie and Alec, stood and stared at the 
master, whose face was covered with one hand, while the 
other hung helpless at his side. Annie stopped, partly out 
of pity for the despot, and partly because Alec stopped. 
Alec stopped because he was the author of the situation — at 
least he never could give any better reason. 

At length Mr. Malison lifted his head, and made a move- 
ment towards his hat. He started when he saw the two 
standing there. But the moment he looked at them their 
courage failed them. 

" Rin, Annie ! " said Alec. 

Away she bolted, and he after her, as well as he could, 
which was not with his usual fleetness by any means. When 
Annie had rounded a corner, not in the master's way home, 
she stopped, and looked back for Alec. He was a good 
many paces behind her ; and then she first discovered the 
condition of her champion. For now that the excitement 
was over, he could scarcely walk, and evidence in kind was 
not wanting that from head to foot he must be one mass of 
wales and bruises. He put his hand on her shoulder to help 
him along, and made no opposition to her accompanying 
him as far as the gate of his mother's garden, which was 
nearly a mile from the town, on the further bank of one of 
the rivers watering the valley-plain in which Glamerton had 
stood for hundreds of years. Then she went slowly home, 
bearing with her the memory of the smile which, in spite of 
pain, had illuminated his tawse-waled cheeks, as she took 
her leave. 

" Good-by, dear Alec ! " she had said. 

" Good-by, Annie dear," he had answered, with the smile ; 
and she had watched him crawl into the house before she 
turned away. 

When she got home she saw at once, from the black looks 
of the Bruce, that the story, whether in its true shape or not, 
had arrived before her. 

Nothing was said, however, till after worship ; when Bruce 
gave her a long lecture, as impressive as the creature was 
capable of making it, on the wickedness and certain punish- 



54 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ment of " takin' up wi' ill loons like Sandy Forbes, wha was 
brakin' his mither's hert wi' his baad behavior." But he 
came to the conclusion, as he confided to his wife that night, 
that the lassie was " growin' hardent already ; " probably 
from her being in a state of too great excitement from the 
events of the day to waste a tear upon his lecture ; for as 
she said in the hearing of the rottans, when she went up to 
bed, she " didna care a flee fort." But the moment she lay 
down she fell to weeping bitterly over the sufferings of Alec. 
She was asleep a moment after, however. If it had not been 
for the power of sleeping that there was in the child, she 
must long before now have given way to the hostile influ- 
ences around her, and died. 

There was considerable excitement about the hearths of 
Glamerton, generally, in consequence of the news of the 
master's defeat carried home by the children. For, although 
it was amazing how little of the doings at school the children 
were in the habit of reporting — so little, indeed, that this 
account involved revelations of the character and proceed- 
ings of Mr. Malison which appeared to many of the parents 
quite incredible — the present occurrence so far surpassed the 
ordinary, and had excited the beholders so much, that they 
could not be quiet about it. Various were the judgments 
elicited by the story. The religious portion of the commu- 
nity seemed to their children to side with the master ; the 
worldly — namely, those who did not profess to be particu- 
larly religious — all sided with Alec Forbes ; with the excep- 
tion of a fish-cadger, who had one son, the plague of his 
life. 

Amongst the religious, there was, at least, one exception, 
too ; but he had no children of his own, and had a 
fancy for Alec Forbes. That exception was Thomas Crann, 
the stone-mason. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



Thomas Crann was building a house ; for he was both 
contractor — in a small way, it is true, not undertaking to do 
any thing without the advance of a good part of the estimate 
— and day-laborer at his own job. Having arrived at the 
point in the process where the assistance of a carpenter was 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 55 

necessary, he went to George Macwha, whom he found at 
his bench, planing. This bench was in a work-shop, with 
two or three more benches in it, some deals set up against 
the wall, a couple of red cart-wheels sent in for repairs, and 
the tools and materials of his trade all about. The floor 
was covered with shavings, or spalcs, as they are called by 
northern consent, which a poor woman wasbusy gatheringinto 
a sack. After a ^hort and gruff greeting on the partof Crann, 
and a more cordial reply from Macwha, who ceased his 
labor to attend to his visitor, they entered on the business- 
question, which, having been carefully and satisfactorily dis- 
cussed, with the aid of various diagrams upon the half-planed 
deal, Macwha returned to his work, and the conversation 
took a more general scope, accompanied by the sounds of 
Macwha's busy instrument. 

" A terrible laddie, that Sandy Forbes ! " said the carpen- 
ter, with a sort of laugh in the ivhisJtk of his plane, as he 
threw off a splendid spale. " They say he's lickit the dom- 
inie, and 'maist been the deid o' him." 

" I hae kent waur laddies nor Sandy Forbes," was 
Thomas's curt reply. 

" Ow, deed ay ! I ken naething agen the laddie. Him 
an' oor Willie's unco throng." 

To this the sole answer Thomas gave was a grunt, and a 
silence of a few seconds followed before he spoke, reverting 
to the point from which they had started. 

" I'm no clear but Alec micht hae committed a waur sin 
than thrashin' the dominie. He's a dour crater, that Mur- 
doch Malison, wi' his fair face and his picket words. I doot 
the bairns hae the warst o' 't in general. And for Alec I 
hae great houpes. He comes o' a guid stock. His father, 
honest man, was ane o' the Lord's ain, although he didna 
mak' sic a stan' as, maybe, he ought to hae dune ; and gin 
his mither has been jist rather saft wi' him, and gi'en him 
ower lang a tether, he'll come a' richt afore lang, for he's 
worth luikin' efter." 

" I dinna richtly understan' ye, Thamas." 

" I dinna think the Lord '11 tyne the grip o' his father's 
son. He's no convertit yet, but he's weel worth convertin', 
for there's guid stuff in him." 

Thomas did not consider how his common sense was 
running away with his theology. But Macwha was not the 
man to bring him to book on that score. His only reply lay in 
the careless whishk, luhashk of his plane. Thomas resumed : 



$6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" He jist wants what ye want, George Macwha." 

" What's that, Thamas ? " asked George, with a grim 
attempt at a smile, as if to say : " I know what's coming, but 
I'm not going to mind it." 

" He jist wants to be weel shaken ower the mou' o' the 
pit. He maun smell the brunstane o' the everlastin' 
burnin's. He's nane o' yer saft buirds, that ye can sleek wi' 
a sweyp o' yer airm ; he's a blue whunstang that's hard to 
dress, but, anes dressed, it bides the weather bonnie. I like 
to work upo' hard stane mysel'. Nane o' yer saft freestane, 
'at ye cud cut wi' a k-nife, for me ! " 

" Weel, Idaursay ye're richt, Thamas." 

" And, forbye, they say he took a' his ain licks ohn said a 
word, and flew at the maister only whan he was gaein' to 
lick the puir orphan lassie — Jeames Anderson's lassie, ye 
ken." 

" Ow ! ay. It's the same tale they a' tell. I hae nae 
doobt it's correck." 

"Weel, lat him talc' it, than, an' be thankfu'! for it's no 
more than was weel waured {spent) on him." 

With these conclusive words, Thomas departed. He was 
no sooner out of the shop than out started, from behind the 
deal boards that stood against the wall, Willie, the eldest 
hope of the house of Macwha, a dusky-skinned, black-eyed, 
curly-headed, roguish-looking boy. Alec Forbes's companion 
and occasional accomplice. He was more mischievous than 
Alec, and sometimes led him into unseen scrapes ; but when- 
ever anything extensive had to be executed, Alec was always 
the leader. 

" What are ye hidin' for, ye rascal ? " said his father. 
" What mischeef hae ye been efter noo ? " 

" Naething by ordinar'," was Willie's cool reply. 

" What garred ye hide, than ? " 

" Tam Cram never sets ee upo' me, but he misca's me, an' 
I dinna like to be misca'd, mair nor ither fowk." 

" Ye get nae mair nor ye deserve, I doobt," returned 
George. " Here, tak' the chisel, and cut that beadin' into 
len'ths." 

" I'm gaein' ower the water to speir efter Alec," was the 
excusatory rejoinder. 

" Ay, ay ! pot and pan ! — What ails Alec noo ? " 

" Mr. Malison's nearhan' killed him. He hasna been at 
the schuil this twa days." 

With these words Willie bolted from the shop, and set off 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 57 

at full speed. The latter part of his statement was perfectly 
true. 

The day after the fight Mr. Malison came to the school as 
usual, but with his arm in a sling. To Annie's dismay, Alec 
did not make his appearance. 

It had of course been impossible to conceal his corporal 
condition from his mother ; and the heart of the widow so 
yearned over the suffering of her son, though no confession 
of suffering escaped Alec's lips, that she vowed in anger that 
he should never cross the door of that school again. For 
three or four days she held immovably to her resolution, 
much to Alec's annoyance, and to the consternation of Mr. 
Malison, who feared that he had not only lost a pupil, but 
made an enemy. For Mr. Malison had every reason for 
being as smooth-faced with the parents as he always was : 
he had ulterior hopes in Glamerton. The clergyman was 
getting old, and Mr. Malison was a licentiate of the Church ; 
and although the people had no direct voice in the filling of 
the pulpit, it was very desirable that a candidate should have 
none but friends in the parish. 

Mr. Malison made no allusion whatever to the events of 
Monday, and things went on as usual in the school, with just 
one exception : for a whole week the tawse did not make its 
appearance. This was owing in part at least to the state of 
his hand ; but if he had ever wished to be freed from 
the necessity of using the lash, he might have derived hope 
from the fact that somehow or other the boys were during 
this week no worse than usual. I do not pretend to explain 
the fact, and beg leave to refer it to occult meteorological 
influences. 

As soon as school was over on that first day of Alec's 
absence, Annie darted off on the road to Howglen, where 
he lived, and never dropped into a walk till she reached the 
garden gate. Fully conscious of the inferiority of her posi- 
tion, she went to the kitchen door. The door was opened 
to her knock before she had recovered breath enough to 
speak. The servant, seeing a girl with a shabby dress, and 
a dirty bonnet, from underneath which hung disorderly 
masses of hair — they would have glinted in the eye of the 
sun, but in the eye of the maid they looked only dusky and 
disreputable — for Annie was not kept so tidy on the interest 
of her money as she had been at the farm — the girl, I say, 
seeing this, and finding besides, as she thought, that Annie 
had nothing to say, took her for a beggar, and returned into 



58 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the kitchen, brought her a piece of oat-cake, the common 
dole to the young mendicants of the time. Annie's face 
flushed crimson, but she said gently, having by this time got 
her runaway breath a little more under control. 

" No, I thank ye ; I'm no beggar. I only wanted to ken 
hoo Alec was the day." 

" Come in," said the girl, anxious to make some amends 
for her blunder, " and I'll tell the mistress." 

Annie would gladly have objected, contenting herself with 
the maid's own account ; but she felt rather than under- 
stood that there would be something undignified in refusing 
to face Alec's mother ; so she followed the maid into the 
kitchen, and sat down on the edge of a wooden chair, like a 
perching bird, till she should return. 

" Please, mem, here's a lassie wantin' to ken hoo Maister 
Alec is the day," said Mary, with the handle of the parlor 
door in her hand. 

"That must be little Annie Anderson, mamma," said 
Alec, who was lying on the sofa very comfortable, consider- 
ing what he had to lie upon. 

It may be guessed at once that Scotch was quite discour- 
aged at home. 

Alec had told his mother all about the affair ; and some 
of her friends from Glamerton, who likewise had sons at the 
school, had called and given their versions of the story, in 
which the prowess of Alec was made more of than in his 
own account. Indeed, all his fellow-scholars except the 
young Bruces sung his praises aloud ; for, whatever the 
degree of their affection for Alec, every one of them hated 
the master — a terrible thought for him, if he had been able 
to appreciate it; but I do not believe he had any suspicion 
of the fact that he was the center of converging thoughts of 
revengeful dislike. So the mother was proud of her boy — 
far prouder than she was willing for him to see: indeed, she 
put on the guise of the offended proprieties as much as she 
could in his presence, thus making Alec feel like a culprit 
in hers, which was more than she intended, or would have 
liked, could she have peeped into his mind. So she could 
not help feeling some interest in Annie, and some curiosity 
to see her. She had known James Anderson, her father, 
and he had been her guest more than once when he had 
called upon business. Every body had liked him ; and this 
general approbation was owing to no lack of character, but 
to his genuine kindness of heart. So Mrs. Forbes was prej- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 59 

udiced in Annie's favor — but far more by her own recol- 
lections of tiie father, than by her son's representations of 
the daughter. 

" Tell her to come up, Mary," she said. 

So Annie, with all the disorganization of school about her, 
was shown, considerably to her discomfort, into Mrs. 
Forbes's dining-room. 

There was nothing remarkable in the room ; but to Annie's 
eyes it seemed magnificent, for carpet and curtains, side- 
board and sofa, were luxuries altogether strange to her 
eyes. So she entered very timidly, and stood trembling and 
pale — for she rarely blushed except when angry — close to 
the door. But Alec scrambled from the sofa, and taking 
hold of her by both hands, pulled her up to his mother. 

" There she is, mamma! " he said. 

And Mrs. Forbes, although her sense of the fitness of 
things was not gratified at seeing her son treat with such 
familiarity a girl so neglectedly attired, yet received her 
kindly and shook hands with her. 

" How do you do, Annie ? " she said. 

" Quite well, I thank ye, mem," answered Annie, showing 
in her voice that she was overawed by the grand lady, yet 
mistress enough of her manners not to forget a pretty 
modest courtesy as she spoke. 

" What's gaein' on at the school the day, Annie ? " asked 
Alec. 

" Naething by ordinar," answered Annie, the sweetness of 
her tones contrasting with the roughness of the dialect. 
" The maister's a hantle quaieter than usual. I fancy he's 
a' the better behaved for's brunt fingers. But, oh, Alec! " 

And here the little maiden burst into a passionate fit of 
crying. 

" What's the matter, Annie ? " said Mrs. Forbes, as she 
drew her nearer, genuinely concerned at the child's tears. 

" Oh! mem, ye didna see hoo the maister lickit him, or 
ye wad hae grutten yersel'." 

Tears from some mysterious source sprung to Mrs. 
Forbes's eyes. But at the moment Mary opened the door, 
and said — 

" Here's Maister Bruce, mem, wantin' to see ye." 

"Tell him to walk up, Mary." 

" Oh! no, no, mem ; dinna let him come till I'm out o' 
this. He'll tak' me wi' him," cried Annie. 

Mary stood waiting the result. 



6o ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" But you must go home, you know, Annie," said Mrs. 
Forbes, kindly. 

" Ay, but no wi' him" pleaded Annie. 

From what Mrs. Forbes knew of the manners and char- 
acter of Bruce, she was not altogether surprised at Annie's 
reluctance. So, turning to the maid, she said — 

" Have you told Mr. Bruce that Miss Anderson is here ?" 

" Me tell him ! No, mem. What's his business ? " 

" Mary, you forget yourself." 

" Weel, mem, I canna bide him." 

" Hold your tongue, Mary," said her mistress, hardly 
able to restrain her own amusement, " and take the child 
into my room till he is gone. But perhaps he knows you 
are here, Annie ? " 

" He canna ken that, mem. He jumps at things whiles, 
though, sharp eneuch." 

" Well, well ! We shall see." 

So Mary led Annie away to the sanctuary of Mrs. Forbes's 
bed-room. 

But the Bruce was not upon Annie's track at all. His 
visit wants a few words of explanation. 

Bruce's father had been a faithful servant to Mr. Forbes's 
father, who held the same farm before his son, both having 
been what are called gentlemen-farmers. The younger 
Bruce, being anxious to set up a shop, had, for his father's 
sake, been assisted with money by the elder Forbes. This 
money he had repaid before the death of the old man, who 
had never asked any interest for it. More than a few 
years had not passed before Bruce, who had a wonderful 
capacity for petty business, was known to have accumulated 
some savings in the bank. Now the younger Forbes, being 
considerably more enterprising than his father, had spent 
all his capital upon improvements — draining, fencing and 
such like — when a younger brother, to whom he was greatly 
attached, applied to him for help in an emergency, and he 
had nothing of his own within his reach wherewith to aid 
him. In this difficulty he bethought him of Bruce, to bor- 
row from whom would not involve the exposure of the fact 
that he was in any embarrassment, however temporary — an 
exposure very undesirable in a country town like Glam- 
erton. 

After a thorough investigation of the solvency of Mr. 
Forbes, and a proper delay for consideration besides, Bruce 
supplied him with a hundred pounds upon personal bond, at 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 6l 

the usual rate of interest, for a certain term of years. Mr. 
Forbes died soon after, leaving his affairs in some embar- 
rassment in consequence of his outlay. Mrs. Forbes had 
paid the interest of the debt now for two years ; but, as the 
rent of the farm was heavy, she found this additional trifle 
a burden. She had good reason, however, to hope for 
better times, as the farm must soon increase its yield. Mr. 
Bruce, on his part, regarded the widow with somewhat jeal- 
ous eyes, because he very much doubted whether, when the 
day arrived, she would be able to pay him the money she 
owed him. That day was, however, not just at hand. It 
was this diversion of his resources, and not the moral neces- 
sity for a nest-egg, as he had represented the case to Mar- 
garet Anderson, which had urged him to show hospitality to 
Annie Anderson and her little fortune. 

So neither was it anxiety for the welfare of Alec that 
induced him to call on Mrs. Forbes. Indeed if Malison 
had killed him outright, he would have been rather pleased 
than otherwise. But he was in the habit of reminding the 
widow of his existence by an occasional call, especially 
when the time approached for the half-yearly payment of 
the interest. And now the report of Alec's condition gave 
him a suitable pretext for looking in upon his debtor, 
without, as he thought, appearing too greedy after his 
money. 

" Weel, mem, hoo are ye the day ? " said he, as he entered, 
rubbing his hands. 

" Quite well, thank you, Mr. Bruce. Take a seat." 

"An* hoo's Mr. Alec?" 

" There he is to answer for himself," said Mrs. Forbes, 
looking towards the sofa. 

" Hoo are ye, Mr. Alec, efter a' this ? " said Bruce, turning 
towards him. 

" Quite well, thank you," answered Alec, in a tone that 
did not altogether please either of the listeners. 

" I thocht ye had been rather sair, sir," returned Bruce, 
in an acid tone. 

" I've got a wale or two, that's all," said Alec. 

" Weel, I houp it'll be a lesson to ye." 

" To Mr. Malison, you should have said, Mr. Bruce. I 
am perfectly satisfied, for my part." 

His mother was surprised to hear him speak like a grown 
man, as well as annoyed by his behavior to Bruce, in whose 
power she feared they might one day find themselves to 



62 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

their cost. But she said nothing, Bruce, likewise, was 
rather nonplussed. He grinned a smile and was silent. 

" I hear you have taken James Anderson's daughter into 
your family now, Mr. Bruce." 

" Ow, ay, mem. There was nobody to luik efter the bit 
lassie ; sae, though I cud but ill affoord it, wi' my ain sma' 
family comin' up, I was jist in a mainner obleeged to tak' her, 
Jeames Anderson bein' a cousin o' my ain, ye ken, mem." 

" Well, I'm sure it was very kind of you and Mrs. Bruce. 
How does the child get on ? " 

" Middlin', mem, middlin'. She's jist some ill for takin 
up wi' loons." 

Here he glanced at Alec, with an expression of successful 
spite. He certainly had the best of it now. 

Alec was on the point of exclaiming, " That's a lie," but 
he had prudence enough to restrain himself, perceiving that 
the contradiction would have a better chance with his mother 
if he delayed its utterance till after the departure of Bruce. 
So meantime the subject was not pursued. A little desul- 
tory conversation followed, and the visitor departed, with a 
laugh from between his teeth as he took leave of Alec, 
which I can only describe as embodying an / told you so sort 
of satisfaction. 

Almost as soon as he was out of the house the parlor- 
door opened, and Mary brought in Annie. Mrs. Forbes's 
eyes were instantly fixed on her with mild astonishment, and 
something of a mother's tenderness awoke in her heart 
toward the little maid-child. What would she not have 
given for such a daughter ! During Bruce's call Mary had 
been busy with the child. She had combed and brushed her 
thick brown hair, and, taken with its exceeding beauty, had 
ventured on a stroke of originality no one would have 
expected of her : she had left it hanging loose on her 
shoulders. Any one would think such an impropriety impos- 
sible to a Scotchwoman. But then she had been handling 
the hair, and contact with any thing alters so much one's 
theories about it. If Mary had found it so, instead of 
making it so, she would have said it was " no dacent." But 
the hair gave her its own theory before she had done with 
it, and this was the result. She had also washed her face 
and hands and neck, made the best she could of her poor, 
dingy dress, and put one of her own Sunday collars upon 
her. 

Annie had submitted to it all without question ; and thus 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 63 

adorned, Mary introduced her again into the dining-room. 
Before Mrs. Forbes had time to discover that she was shocked, 
she was captivated by the pale, patient face, and the longing 
blue eyes, that looked at her as if the child felt that she 
ought to have been her mother, but somehow they had 
missed each other. They gazed out of the shadows of the 
mass of dark brown wavy hair that fell to her waist, and 
there was no more any need for Alec to contradict Bruce's 
calumny. But Mrs. Forbes was speedily recalled to a sense 
of propriety by observing that Alec too was staring at Annie 
with a mingling of amusement, admiration and respect. 

" What have you been about, Mary ? " she said, in a tone 
of attempted reproof. " You have made a perfect fright of 
the child. Take her away." 

When Annie was once more brought back with her hair 
restored to its net, silent tears of mortification were still flow- 
ing down her cheeks. — When Annie cried, the tears always 
rose and flowed without any sound or convulsion. Rarely 
did she sob even. — This completed the conquest of Mrs. 
Forbes's heart. She drew the little one to her, and kissed 
her, and Annie's tears instantly ceased to rise, while Mrs. 
Forbes wiped away those still lingering on her face. Mary 
then went to get the tea, and Mrs. Forbes having left the 
room for a moment to recover that self-possession, the loss 
of which is peculiarly objectionable to a Scotchwoman, Annie 
was left seated on a footstool before the bright fire, the 
shadows from which were now dancing about the darkening 
room, and Alec lay on the sofa looking at her. There was 
no great occasion for his lying on the sofa, but his mother 
desired it, and Alec had at present no particular objection. 

" I wadna like to be gran' fowk," mused Annie aloud, for- 
getting that she was not alone. 

" We're no gran' fowk, Annie," said Alec. 

" Ay are ye," returned Annie, persistently. 

" Weel, what for wadna ye like it ? " 

" Ye maun be aye feared for blaudin' things." 

" Mamma wad tell ye a different story," rejoined Alec, 
laughing. "There's naething here to blaud {spoil)." 

Mrs. Forbes returned. Tea was brought in. Annie com- 
ported herself like a lady, and, after tea, ran home with 
mingled feelings of pleasure and pain. For, notwithstand- 
ing her assertion that she would not like to be " gran' fowk," 
the kitchen fire, small and dull, the smelling shop and her 
own dreary garret-room, did not seem more desirable from 



64 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

her peep into the warmth and comfort of the house at 
Howglen. 

Questioned as to what had delayed her return from school, 
she told the truth ; that she had gone to ask after Alec 
Forbes, and that they had kept her to tea. 

*' I tauld them that ye ran efter the loons ! " said Bruce, 
triumphantly. Then stung with the reflection that /le had 
not been asked to stay to tea, he added : " It's no for the likes 
o' you, Annie, to gang to gentlefowk's houses, makin' free 
whaur ye're no wantit. Sae dinna lat me hear the like again." 

But it was wonderful how Bruce's influence over Annie, 
an influence of distress, was growing gradually weaker. He 
could make her uncomfortable enough ; but as to his opinion 
of her, she had almost reached the point of not caring a 
straw for that. And she had faith enough in Alec to hope 
that he would defend her from whatever Bruce might have 
said against her. 

Whether Mary had been talking in the town, as is not 
improbable, about little Annie Anderson's visit to her mis- 
tress, and so the story of the hair came to be known, or not, 
I cannot tell ; but it was a notable coincidence that a few 
days after Mrs. Bruce came to the back-door, with a great 
pair of shears in her hand, and calling Annie, said : 

" Here, Annie ! Yer hair's ower lang. I maun jist clip 
it. Its giein' ye sair een." 

" There's naething the matter wi' my een," said Annie 
gently. 

" Dinna answer back. Sit doon," returned Mrs. Bruce, 
leading her into the kitchen. 

Annie cared very little for her hair, and well enough 
remembered that Mrs. Forbes had said it made a fright of 
her ; so it was with no great reluctance that she submitted 
to the operation. Mrs. Bruce chopped it short off all round. 
As, however, this permitted what there was of it to fall about 
her face, there being too little to confine in the usual prison 
of the net, her appearance did not bear such marks of depri- 
vation, or, in other and Scotch words, " she didna luik 
sae dockit," as might have been expected. 

Her wavy locks of rich brown were borne that night by 
the careful hand of Mrs. Bruce to Rob Guddle, the barber. 
Nor was the hand less careful that brought back their 
equivalent in money. With a smile to her husband, half 
loving and half cunning, Mrs. Bruce dropped the amount 
into the till. 



CHAPTER XV. 

Although Alec Forbes was not a boy of quick receptiv- 
ity as far as books were concerned, and therefore was no 
favorite with Mr. Malison, he was not by any means a com- 
mon or a stupid boy. His own eyes could teach him more 
than books could, for he had a very quick observation of 
things about him, both in what is commonly called nature 
and in humanity. He knew all the birds, all their habits, 
and all their eggs. Not a boy in Glamerton could find a 
nest quicker than he, or when found treated it with such 
respect. For he never took young birds and seldom more 
than half of the eggs. Indeed he was rather an uncommon 
boy, having, along with more than the usual amount of 
activity even for a boy, a tenderness of heart altogether rare 
in boys. He was as familiar with the domestic animals and 
their ways of feeling and acting as Annie herself. Any 
thing like cruelty he detested ; and yet, as occasion will 
show, he could execute stern justice. With the world of 
men around him he was equally conversant. He knew the 
characters of the simple people wonderfully well ; and took 
to Thomas Crann more than to any one else, notwithstand- 
ing that Thomas would read him a long lecture sometimes. 
To these lectures Alec would listen seriously enough, 
believing Thomas to be right ; though he could never make 
up his mind to give any after attention to what he required 
of him. 

The first time Alec met Thomas after the affair with the 
dominie, was on the day before he was to go back to school ; 
for his mother had yielded at last to his entreaties. Thomas 
was building an addition to a water-mill on the banks of the 
Glamour not far from where Alec lived, and Alec had 
strolled along thither to see how the structure was going on. 
He expected a sharp rebuke for his behavior to Mr. Mali- 
son, but somehow he was not afraid of Thomas, and was 
resolved to face it out. The first words Thomas uttered, 
however, were : 

" Weel, Alec, can ye tell me what was the name o' King 
Dawvid's mither ? " 

" I c3.\\not, Thomas," answered Alec. " What was it ? " 

" Fin' ye that oot. Turn ower yer Bible. Hae ye been 
back to the school yet ? " 



66 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

** No. I'm gaein' the morn." 

" Ye're no gaein' to strive wi' the maister afore nicht, are 
ye ? " 

" I dinna ken," answered Alec. " Maybe he'll strive wi* 
me. — But ye ken, Thomas," he continued, defending him- 
self from what he supposed Thomas was thinking, " King 
Dawvid himsel' killed the giant." 

" Ow ! ay; a' richt. I'm no referring to that. Maybe ye 
did verra richt. But tak' care, Alec — " here Thomas 
paused from his work, and turning towards the boy with a 
trowelful of mortar in his hand, spoke very slowly and 
solemnly — " tak' ye care that ye beir no malice against the 
maister. Justice itsel', dune for the sake o' a private 
grudge, will bunce back upo' the doer. I hae little doobt 
the maister'll be the better for't ; but gin ye be the waur, 
it'll be an ill job. Alec, my man." 

"I hae no ill-will at him, Thomas." 

" Weel, jist watch yer ain hert, and bewaur ye o' that. I 
wad coonsel ye to try and please him a grainie mair nor 
ordinar'. It's no that easy to the carnal man, but ye ken 
we ought to crucify the auld man, wi' his affections and 
lusts." 

" Weel, I'll try," said Alec, to whom it was not nearly so 
difficult as Thomas imagined. His man apparently was not 
very old yet. 

And he did try ; and the master seemed to appreciate his 
endeavors, and to accept them as a peace offering, thus 
showing that he really was the better for the punishment he 
had received. 

It would be great injustice to Mr. Malison to judge him 
by the feeling of the present day. It was the custom of the 
time and of the country to use the tawse unsparingly ; for 
law having been, and still, in a great measure, being, the 
highest idea generated of the divine by the ordinary Scotch 
mind, it must be supported, at all risks, even by means of 
the leather strap. In the hands of a wise and even-tem- 
pered man, no harm could result from the use of this instru- 
ment of justice ; but in the hands of a fierce-tempered and 
therefore changeable man, of small moral stature, and liable 
to prejudices and offense, it became the means of unspeak- 
able injury to those under his care ; not the least of which 
was the production, in delicate natures, of doubt and hesi- 
tancy, sometimes deepening into cowardice and lying. 

Mr. Malison had nothing of the childlike in himself, and 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 67 

consequently never saw the mind of the child whose person 
he was assailing with a battery of excruciating blows, A 
man ought to be able to endure grief suffering wrongfully, 
and be none the worse ; but who dares demand that of a 
child ? Well it is for such masters that even they are 
judged by the heart of a father, and not by the law of a 
king, that worst of all the fictions of an ignorant and low 
theology. And if they must receive punishment, at least 
let it not be the heartless punishment which they inflicted 
on the boys and girls under their law. 

Annie began to be regarded as a protegee of Alec Forbes, 
and as Alec was a favorite with the most of his school-fel- 
lows, and was feared where he was not loved, even her cous- 
ins began to look upon her with something like respect, and 
mitigate their persecutions. But she did not therefore 
become much more reconciled to her position ; for the 
habits and customs of her home were distasteful to her, and 
its whole atmosphere uncongenial. Nor could it have been 
otherwise in any house where the entire anxiety was, first, 
to make money, and next, not to spend it. The heads did 
not in the least know that they were unkind to her. On the 
contrary, Bruce thought himself a pattern of generosity if 
he gave her a scrap of string ; and Mrs. Bruce, when she 
said to inquiring gossips, " The bairn's like ither bairns — 
she's well eneuch " thought herself a pattern of justice or 
even forbearance. But both were jealous of her in relation 
to their own children ; and when Mrs. Forbes sent for her 
one Saturday, soon after her first visit, they hardly concealed 
their annoyance at the preference shown her by one who 
was under such great obligation to the parents of other 
children every way superior to her whose very presence 
somehow or other made them uncomfortable. 



CHAPTER XVI. 



The winter drew on — a season as different from the sum- 
mer in those northern latitudes as if it belonged to another 
solar system. Cold and stormy, it is yet full of delight for 
all beings that can either romp, sleep or think it through. 
But alas for the old and sickly, in poor homes, with scanty 



68 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

food and firing ! Little children suffer too, though the gift 
of forgetfulness does for them what the gift of faith does 
for their parents — helps them over many troubles, besides 
tingling fingers and stony feet. There would be many 
tracks of those small feet in the morning snow, leading 
away across the fresh-fallen clouds from the house and cot- 
tage doors ; for the barbarity of morning-school, that is, an 
hour and a half of dreary lessons before breakfast, was in 
full operation at Glamerton. 

The winter came. One morning all the children awoke, 
and saw a white world around them. Alec jumped out of 
bed in delight. It was a sunny, frosty morning. The snow 
had fallen all night, with its own silence, and no wind had 
interfered with the gracious alighting of the feathery water. 
Every branch, every twig was laden with its sparkling bur- 
den of down-flickered flakes, and threw long lovely shadows 
on the smooth featureless dazzle below. Away, away, 
stretched the outspread glory, the only darkness in it being 
the line of the winding river. All the snow that fell on it 
vanished, as death and hell shall one day vanish in the fire 
of God. It flowed on, black, through its banks of white. 
Away again stretched the shine to the town, where every 
roof had the sheet that was let down from heaven spread 
over it, and the streets lay a foot deep in yet unsullied snow, 
soon, like the story of the ages, to be trampled, soiled, 
wrought, and driven with human feet, till, at last, God's 
strong sun would wipe it all away. 

From the door opening into this fairy-land. Alec sprang 
into the untrodden space, as into a new America. He had 
discovered a world, without even the print of human foot 
upon it. The keen air made him happy ; and the face of 
nature, looking as peaceful as the face of a dead man dream- 
ing of heaven, wrought in him jubilation and leaping. He 
was at the school door before a human being had appeared 
in the streets of Glamerton. Its dwellers all lay still under 
those sheets of snow, which seemed to hold them asleep in 
its cold enchantment. 

Before any of his fellows made their appearance he had 
kneaded and piled a great heap of snowballs, and stood by 
his pyramid, prepared for the offensive. He attacked the 
first that came, and soon there was a troop of boys pelting 
away at him. But with his store of balls at his foot he was 
able to pay pretty fairly for what he received ; till, that 
being exhausted, he was forced to yield the unc ]ual combat. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 69 

By-and-by the little ones gathered, with Annie amongst 
them ; but they kept aloof, for fear of the flying balls, for 
the boys had divided into two equal parties and were pelt- 
ing away at each other. At length the woman who had 
charge of the school-room, having finished lighting the fire, 
opened the door, and Annie, who was very cold, made a run 
for it, during a lull in the fury of the battle. 

" Stop," cried Alec ; and the balling ceased, that Annie, 
followed by a few others, might pass in safety through the 
midst of the combatants. One boy, however, just as Annie 
was entering, threw a ball after her. He missed her, but 
Alec did not miss him ; for scarcely was the ball out of his 
hand when he received another, right between his eyes. 
Over he went, amidst a shout of satisfaction. 

When the master appeared at the top of the lane the 
fight came to a close ; and as he entered the school, the 
group round the fire broke up and dispersed. Alec, having 
entered close behind the master, overtook Annie as she 
went to her seat, for he had observed as she ran into the 
school, that she was lame, indeed limping considerably. 

"What's the matter wi' ye', Annie?" he said. "What 
gars ye hirple ? " 

" Juno bitet me," answered Annie. 

" Ay ! Verra weel ! " returned Alec, in a tone that had 
more meaning than the words. 

Soon after the Bible-class was over, and they had all taken 
their seats, a strange quiet stir and excitement gradually 
arose, like the first motions of a whirlpool at the turn of 
the tide. The master became aware of more than the usual 
flitting to and fro amongst the boys, just like the coming 
and going which precludes the swarming of bees. But as 
he had little or no constructive power, he never saw beyond 
symptoms. These were to him mere isolated facts, signify- 
ing present disorder. 

" John Morison, go to your seat," he cried. 

John went. 

" Robert Rennie, go to your seat." 

Robert went. And this continued till, six having been 
thus passed by, and a seventh appearing three forms from his 
own, the master, who seldom stood it so long, could stand 
it no longer. The tag was thrown, and a licking followed, 
making matters a little better from the master's point of view. 

Now I will try to give, from the scholar's side, a peep of 
what passed. 



7© ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

As soon as he was fairly seated, Alec said in a low voice 
across the double desk to one of the boys opposite, calling 
him by his nickname, 

" I say, Divot, do ye ken Juno ? " 

" Maybe no ! " answered Divot. " But gin I dinna, my 
left leg dis." 

" I thocht ye kent the shape o' her teeth, man. Jist gie 
Scrumpie there a dig i' the ribs." 

" What are ye efter, Divot ? I'll gie ye a cloot o' the 
lug," growled Scrumpie. 

" Hoot, man ! The General wants ye." 

The General was Alec's nickname. 

" What is't, General ? " 

" Do ye ken Juno?" 

" Hang the bitch ! I ken her ower weel. She took her 
denner aff o' ane o' my hips, ae day last year." 

" Jist creep ower to Cadger there, and speir gin he kens 
Juno. Maybe he's forgotten her." 

Cadger's reply was interrupted by the interference of the 
master, but a pantomimic gesture conveyed to the General 
sufficient assurance of the retentiveness of Cadger's memory 
in regard to Juno and her favors. Such messages and 
replies, notwithstanding more than one licking, kept passing 
the whole of the morning. 

Now Juno was an animal of the dog kind, belonging to 
Robert Bruce. She had the nose and the legs of a bull-dog, 
but was not by any means thorough-bred, and her behavior 
was worse than her breed. She was a great favorite with 
her master, who ostensibly kept her chained in his back-yard 
for the protection of his house and property. But she was 
not by any means popular with the rising generation. For 
she was given to biting, with or without provocation, and 
every now and then she got loose, upon sundry of which 
occasions she had bitten boys. Complaint had been made 
to her owner, but without avail ; for he only professed great 
concern, and promised she should not get loose again, which 
promise had been repeatedly broken. Various vows of 
vengeance had been made, and forgotten. But now Alec 
Forbes had taken up the cause of humanity and justice : 
for the brute had bitten Annie, and she could have given no 
provocation. 

It was soon understood throughout the school that war was 
to be made upon Juno, and that every able-bodied boy must 
be ready when called out by the General. The minute they 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 71 

were dismissed, which, at this season of the year, took place 
at three o'clock, no interval being given for dinner, because 
there was hardly any afternoon, the boys gathered in a knot 
at the door. 

" What are ye gaein' to do. General ? " asked one. 

" Kill her," answered Alec. 

" What way ? " 

" Stane her to death, loons, like the man 'at brak the 
Sabbath." 

" Broken banes for broken skins — eh ? Ay ! " 

" The damned ill-faured brute, to bite Annie Anderson! " 

" But there's nae stanes to be gotten i' the snaw, General," 
said Cadger. 

" Ye gomeril ! Ye'll get mair stanes nor ye'll carry, I 
doobt, up o' the side o' the toll-road yonner. Naething like 
road-metal ! " 

A confused chorus of suggestions and exclamations now 
arose, in the midst of which Willie Macwha, whose cogno- 
men was Curly-pow, came up. He was not often the last in 
a conspiracy. His arrival had for the moment a sedative 
effect. 

*' Here's Curly ! Here's Curly ! " 

" Weel, is't a' sattled ? " asked he. 

" She's condemned, but no execute yet," said Grumpie. 

" Hoo are we to win at her ? " asked Cadger. 

" That's jist the pint," said Divot. 

" We canna weel kill her in her ain yard," suggested 
Houghie. 

" Na. We maun bide our time, an' tak' her when she's 
oot aboot," said the General. 

" But wha's to ken that ? an' hoo are we to gather ? " 
asked Cadger, who seemed both of a practical and a despon- 
dent turn of mind. 

'* Noo, jist haud yer tongues, an' hearken to me," said 
Alec. 

The excited assembly was instantly silent. 

" The first thing," began Alec, *' is to store plenty o' 
ammunition." 

" Ay, ay. General." 

" Haud yer tongues. Whaur had we best stow the stanes, 
Curly?" 

" In oor yard. They'll never be noticed there." 

" That'll do. Some time the nicht, ye'll a' carry what 
stanes ye can get — an' min' they're o' a serviceable natur' — 



72 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

to Curly's yard. He'll be o* the ootluik for ye. An', I say, 
Curly, doesna your riggin-stane owerluik the maist o' the 
toon ? " 

"Ay, General." 

" Ye can see our hoose frae't — canna ye ? " 

" Ay." 

" Weel, ye jist buy a twa three blue lichts. Hae ye ony 
bawbees ? " 

" Deil ane, General." 

" Hae than, there's fower an' a bawbee for expenses o' 
the war." 

" Thank ye, General." 

" Ye hae an auld gun, haena' ye ? " 

" Ay have I ; but she's nearhan' the rivin'," 

" Load her to the mou', and lat her rive. We'll may be 
hear't. But hand weel oot ower frae her. Ye can lay a 
train, ye ken." 

"I s'tak' care o' that, General." 

" Scrumpie, ye bide no that far frae the draigon's den. Ye 
jist keep yer ee — nae the crookit ane — upo' her ootgoin's an' 
incomin's ; or raither, ye luik efter her comin' oot, an' we'll 
a' luik efter her gaein' in again. Jist mak' a regiment o' yer 
ain to watch her, and bring ye word o' her proceedin's. Ye 
can easy luik roun the neuk o' the back-yett, an' nobody be 
a hair the wiser. As sune as ever ye spy her lowse i' the 
yard be aff wi' ye to Willie Macwha. Syne, Curly, ye fire 
yer gun, and burn the blue lichts, o' the tap o' the hoose ; 
and gin I see or hear the signal, I'll be ower in seven 
minutes an' a half. Ilka ane o' ye 'at hears, maun luik efter 
the neist ; and sae we'll a' gether at Curly's, Fess yer bags 
for the stanes, them 'at has bags." 

" But gin ye dinna see or hear, for it's a lang road, Gen- 
eral ? " interposed Cadger. 

*' Gin I'm no at your yard. Curly, in saiven minutes an' a 
half, sen' Linkum efter me. He's the only ane o' ye 'at can 
rin. It's a* that he can do, but he does't well. Whan Juno's 
ance oot, she's no in a hurry in again." 

The boys separated and went home in a state of excite- 
ment, which probably, however, interfered very little with 
their appetites, seeing it was moderated in the mean time 
by the need and anticipation of their dinners. 

The sun set now between two and three o'clock, and there 
were no long forenights to favor the plot. Perhaps their hatred 
of the dog would not have driven them to such extreme 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 73 

measures, even although she had bitten Annie Anderson, had 
her master been a favorite, or even generally respected. But 
Alec knew well enough that the townsfolk were not likely to 
sympathize with Bruce on the ill-treatment of his cur. 

When the dinner and the blazing fire had filled him so 
full of comfort that he was once more ready to encounter 
the cold, Alec could stay in the house no longer. 
" Where are you going, Alec ? " said his mother. 
"Into the garden, mamma." 

" What can you want in the garden — full of snow ? " 
" It's just the snow I want, mamma. It won't keep." 
And, in another moment, he was under the clear blue 
night-heaven, with the keen frosty air blowing on his warm 
cheek, busy with a wheelbarrow and a spade, slicing and 
shoveling in the snow. He was building a hut of it, after 
the fashion of the Esquimaux hut, with a very thick circular 
wall, which began to lean towards its own center as soon as 
it began to rise. This hut he had pitched at the foot of a 
flag-staff on the green — laimi would be too grand a word for 
the hundred square feet in front of his mother's house, 
though the grass which lay beneath the snowy carpet was 
very green and lovely grass, smooth enough for any lawn. 
In summer Alec had quite reveled in its greenness and 
softness, as he lay on it reading the Arabian Nights and the 
Ettrick Shepherd's stories : now it was " white with the 
whiteness of what is dead ; " for is not the snow just dead 
water ? The flag-staff he had got George Macwha to erect 
for him at a very small outlay ; and he had himself fitted it 
. with shrouds and a cross-yard, and signal halliards ; for he 
had always a fancy for the sea, and boats, and rigging of all 
sorts. And he had a great red flag, too, which he used to 
hoist on special occasions — on market-days and such like ; 
and often besides when a good wind blew. And very grand 
it looked, as it floated in the tide of the wind. 

Often he paused in his work, and turned — and oftener 
without raising himself he glanced towards the town ; but 
no signal burned from the ridge of Curly's house, and he 
went on with his labor. When called in to tea, he gave a 
long wistful look townwards, but saw no sign. Out again 
he went, but no blue fire rejoiced him that night with the news 
that Juno was ranging the streets ; and he was forced to go 
to bed at last, and take refuge from his disappointment in 
sleep. 

The next day he strictly questioned all his officers as to 



74 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the manner in which they had fulfilled their duty, and found 
no just cause of complaint. 

" In future," he said to Curly, with the importance of one 
who had the affairs of boys and dogs upon his brain — so 
that his style rose into English—" in future, Curly, you may 
always know I am at home when you see the red flag flying 
from my flag-staff." 

" That's o' sma' service. General, i' the lang forenichts. 
A body canna see freely so far." 

" But Linkum wad see't fleein', lang or he wan to the yett 
{gate):' 

" It wad flee nae mair nora deid deuke i' this weather. It 
wad be frozen as stiff's a buird." 

" Ye gowk ! Do ye think fowk wash their flags afore they 
hing them oot, like sarks or sheets? Dinna ye be ower 
clever. Curly, my man." 

Whereupon Curly shut up. 

* * * * * * 

" What are you in such a state about, Alec ? " asked his 
mother. 

" Nothing very particular, mamma," answered Alec, 
ashamed of his want of self-command. 

" You've looked out at the window twenty times in the last 
half-hour," she persisted. 

" Curly promised to burn a blue light, and I wanted to see 
if I could see it." 

Suspecting more, his mother was forced to be content 
with this answer. 

But that night was also passed without sight or sound. 
Juno kept safe in her barrel, little thinking of the machina- 
tions against her in the wide snow-covered country around. 
Alec finished the Esquimaux hut, and the snow falling all 
night, the hut looked the next morning as if it had been 
there all the winter. As it seemed likely that a long spell 
of white weather had set in, Alec resolved to extend his 
original plan, and carry a long snow passage, or covered 
vault, from the lattice-window of a small closet, almost on a 
level with the ground, to this retreat by the flag-staff. He 
was hard at work in the execution of this project, on the 
third night, or rather late afternoon ; they called it forenight 
there. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

"What can that be, mem, awa' ower the toon there'" 
said Mary to her mistress, as in passing she peeped out of 
the window, the bUnd of which Alec had drawn up behind 
the curtain. 

" What is it, Mary ? " 

** That's jist what I dinna ken, mem. It canna be the rory- 
bories, as Alec ca's them. It's ower blue. — It's oot. — It's in 
agin. — It's no canny. — And, preserve 's a' ! it's crackin' as 
weel," cried Mary, as the subdued sound of a far-off explo- 
sion reached her. 

This was of course no other than the roar of Curly's gun 
in the act of bursting and vanishing ; for neither stock, lock 
nor barrel was ever seen again. It left the world like a Norse 
king on his fire-ship. But at the moment. Alec was too 
busy in the depths of his snow-vault to hear or see the 
signals. 

By-and-by a knock came to the kitchen door. Mary went 
and opened it. 

" Alec's at hame, I ken," said a rosy boy, almost breath- 
less with past speed and present excitement. 

" Hoo ken ye that, my man ? " asked Mary. 

" 'Cause the flag's fleein'. Whaur is he ? " 

" Gin ye ken sae muckle aboot him already, ye can jist 
fin' him to yersel' ! " 

" The bick's oot ! " panted Linkum. 

But Mary shut the door. 

" Here's a job ! " said Linkum to himself. ** I canna gang 
throu' a steekit door. And there's Juno wi' the rin o' the 
haill toun. Deil tak' her ! " 

But at the moment he heard Alec whistling a favorite 
tune, as he shoveled away at the snow. 

" General ! " cried Linkum, in ecstasy. 

" Here ! " answered Alec, flinging his spade twenty feet 
from him, and bolting in the direction of the call. " Is't you, 
Linkum ? " 

" She's oot, General." 

" Deil hae her, gin ever she wins in again, the curst wor- 
ryin' brute ! Did ye gang to Curly ? " 

" Ay did I. He fired the gun, and burned three blue lichts. 



76 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

and waited seven minutes and a half ; and syne he sent me 
for ye, General." 

" Con(oon' 't," cried Alec, and tore through shrubbery 
and hedge, the nearest way to the road, followed by Linkum, 
who even at full speed was not a match for Alec. Away 
they flew like the wind, along the well-beaten path to the 
town, over the foot-bridge that crossed the Glamour, and full 
speed up the hill to Willie Macwha, who, with a dozen or 
fifteen more, was anxiously waiting for the commander. 
They all had their book-bags, pockets and arms filled with 
stones lately broken for mending the turnpike road, mostly 
granite, but partly whinstone and flint. One bag was ready 
filled for Alec. 

*' Noo," said the General, in the tone of Gideon of old, 
"gin ony o' ye be fleyt at the brute, jist gang hame." 

"Ay ! ay ! General." 

But nobody stirred, for those who were afraid had slunk 
away the moment they saw Alec coming up the hill, like the 
avenger of blood. 

" Wha's watchin' her ? " 

" Doddles, Gapy, and Goat." 

" Whaur was she last seen ? " 

" Takin' up wi' anither tyke on the squaure." 

" Doddles '11 be at the pump, to tell whaur's the ither twa 
and' the tyke." 

" Come along, then. This is hoo ye're to gang. We 
maunna a' gang thegither. Some o' ye — you three — doon 
the Back Wynd ; you sax, up Lucky Hunter's Close ; and the 
lave by Gowan Street ; and the first at the pump bides for 
the lave." 

"Hoo are we to mak' the attack, General?" 

" I'll gie my orders as the case may demand," said Alec. 

And away they shot. 

The muffled sounds of the feet of the various companies, 
as they thundered past upon the snow, roused the old wives 
dozing over their knitting by their fires of spent oak-bark ; 
and according to her temper would be the remark with which 
each startled dame turned again to her former busy quies- 
cence : — " Some mischief o' the loons ! " " Some ploy o' the 
laddies ! " " Some deevilry o' thae rascals frae Malison's 
school ! " 

They reached the square almost together, and found Dod- 
dles at the pump ; who reported that Juno had gone down 
the inn-yard, and Gapey and Goat were watching her. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 77 

Now she must come out to get home again, for there was no 
back-way ; so by Alec's orders they dispersed a little to avoid 
observation, and drew gradually between the entrance of the 
inn-yard, and the way Juno would take to go home. 

The town was ordinarily lighted at night with oil lamps, 
but moonlight and snow had rendered them for some time 
unnecessary. 

" Here she is ! Here she is ! " cried several at once in a 
hissing whisper of excitement. " Lat at her ! " 

" Haud still ! " cried Alec. " Bide till I tell ye. Dinna 
ye see there's Lang Tam's dog wi' her, an' he's done nae- 
thing. • Ye maunna punish the innocent wi' the guilty." 

A moment after the dogs took their leave of each other, 
and Juno went, at a slow slouching trot, in the direction of 
her own street. 

" Close in ! " cried Alec. 

Juno found her way barred in a threatening manner, and 
sought to pass meekly by. 

*' Lat at her, boys ! " cried the General. 

A storm of stones was their answer to the order ; and a 
howl of rage and pain burst from the animal. She turned ; 
but found that she was the center of a circle of enemies. 

" Lat at her ! Haud at her ! " bawled Alec. 

And thick as the hail the well-aimed stones flew from the 
practiced hands ; though of course in the frantic rushes of 
the dog to escape, not half of them took effect. She darted 
first at one and then at another, snapping wildly, and meet- 
ing with many a kick and blow in return. 

The neighbors began to look out at their shop-doors and 
their windows ; for the boys, rapt in the excitement of the 
sport, no longer laid any restraint upon their cries. Andrew 
Constable, the clothier, from his shop-door ; Rob Guddle, 
the barber, from his window, with his face shadowed by 
Annie's curls ; Redford, the book-seller, from the top of the 
stairs that led to his shop ; in short, the whole of the shop- 
keepers on the square of Glamerton were regarding this bat- 
tle of odds. The half-frozen place looked half-alive. But 
none of the good folks cared much to interfere, for flying 
stones are not pleasant to encounter. And indeed they could 
not clearly make out what was the matter. In a minute 
more a sudden lull came over the hubbub. They saw all 
the group gather together in a murmuring knot. 

The fact was this. Although cowardly enough now, the 
brute, infuriated with pain, had made a determined rush at 



78 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

one of her antagonists, and a short hand-to-teeth struggle 
was now taking place, during which the stoning ceased. 

" She has a grip o' my leg," said Alec quietly, " and I hae 
a grip o' her throat. Curly, pit yer han' i' my jacket-pooch, 
an' tak' oot a bit towie ye'll fin' there." 

Curly did as he was desired, and drew out a yard and a 
half of garden-line. 

"Jist pit it wi' ae single k-not roon' her neck, an' twa 
three o' ye tak' a haud at ilka en', and pu' for the life o' 
ye ! " 

They hauled with hearty vigor. Juno's teeth relaxed their 
hold of Alec's calf ; in another minute her tongue was hang- 
ing out of her mouth, and when they ceased the strain she 
lay limp on the snow. With a shout of triumph, they started 
off at full speed, dragging the brute by the neck through the 
street. Alec essayed to follow them ; but found his leg too 
painful ; and was forced to go limping home. 

When the victors had run till they were out of breath, 
they stopped to confer ; and the result of their conference 
was that in solemn silence they drew her home to the back 
gate, and finding all still in the yard, deputed two of their 
company to lay the dead body in its kennel. 

Curly and Linkum drew her into the yard, tumbled her 
into her barrel, which they set up on end, undid the string, 
and left Juno lying neck and tail together in ignominious 
peace. 

Before Alec reached home his leg had swollen very 
much, and was so painful that he could hardly limp along ; 
for Juno had taken no passing snap, but a great strong 
mouthful. He concealed his condition from his mother for 
that night ; but next morning his leg was so bad that there 
was no longer a possibility of hiding the fact. To tell a lie 
would have been so hard for Alec that he had scarcely any 
merit in not telling one. So there was nothing for it but 
confession. His mother scolded him to a degree considera- 
bly beyond her own sense of the wrong, telling him he 
would get her into disgrace in the town as the mother of a 
lawless son, who meddled with other people's property in a 
way little better than stealing. 

" I fancy, mamma, a loun's legs are aboot as muckle his 
ain property as the tyke was Rob Bruce's. It's no the first 
time she's bitten half a dizzen legs that were neither her ain 
nor her maister's." 

Mrs. Forbes could not well answer this argument ; so she 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 79 

took advantage of the fact that Alec had, in the excitement 
of self-defense, lapsed into Scotch. 

" Don't talk so vulgarly to me. Alec," she said ; " keep 
that for your ill-behaved companions in the town." 

" They are no worse than I am, mamma. / was at the 
bottom of it." 

" I never said they were," she answered. 

But in her heart she thought if they were not, there was 
little amiss with them. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



Alec was once more condemned to the sofa, and Annie 
had to miss him and wonder what had become of him. She 
always felt safe when Alec was there, and when he was not 
she grew timid ; although whole days would sometimes pass 
without either speaking to the other. But before the morn- 
ing was over she learned the reason of his absence. 

For about noon, when all was tolerably harmonious in the 
school, the door opened, and the face of Robert Bruce 
appeared, with gleaming eyes of wrath. 

" Guid preserve's ! " said Scrumpie to his next neighbor. 
** Sic a hidin' as we s' a' get ! Here's Rob Bruce ! Wha's 
gane and tell't him ? " 

But some of the gang of conspirators, standing in a class 
near the door, stared in horror. Amongst them was Curly. 
His companions declared afterwards that had it not been for 
the strength of the curl, his hair would have stood upright. 
For, following Bruce, led in fact by a string, came an awful 
apparition — Juno herself, a pitiable mass of caninity — look- 
ing like the resuscitated corpse of a dog that had been nine 
days buried, crowded with lumps, and speckled with cuts, 
going on three legs, and having her head and throat 
swollen to a size past recognition. 

" She's no deid after a' ! Deil tak' her ! for he's in her," 
said Doddles. 

"We haena killed her eneuch," said Curly. 

" I tell't ye. Curly ! Ye had little ado to lowse the tow. 
She wad ha' been as deid afore the mornin' as Lucky 
Gordon's cat that ye cuttit the heid aff o'," said Linkum. 



8o ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Eh ! but she luiks bonnie ! " said Curly, trying to shake 
off his dismay. " Man, we'll hae't a' to do ower again. Sic 
fun ! " 

But he could not help looking a little rueful when Linkum 
expressed a wish that they were themselves well through 
with their share of the killing. 

And now the storm began to break. The master had 
gone to the door and shaken hands with his visitor, glanc- 
ing a puzzled interrogation at the miserable animal in the 
string, which had just shape enough left to show that it was 
a dog. 

*' I'm verra sorry, Maister Malison, to come to you wi' my 
complaints," said Bruce ; "but jist luik at the puir dumb 
animal ! She cudna come hersel', an' sae I bude to bring 
her. Stan' still, ye brute ! " 

For Juno having caught sight of some boy-legs, through 
a corner of one eye not quite bunged up, began to tug at the 
string with feeble earnestness — no longer, however, regard- 
ing the said legs as made for dogs to bite, but as fearful 
instruments of vengeance, in league with stones and cords. 
So the straining and pulling was all homewards. But her 
master had brought her as chief witness against the boys, 
and she must remain where she was. 

" Eh, lass ! " he said, hauling her back by the string ; 
" gin ye had but the tongue o' the prophet's ass, ye wad 
sune pint out the rascals that misguided and misgrugled ye 
that gait. But here's the just judge that'll gie yeyer richts, 
and that wi'oot fee or reward. — Mr. Malison, she was ane o' 
the bonniest bicks ye cud set yer ee upo' — " 

A smothered laugh gurgled through the room. 

— " till some o' your loons — nae offense, sir — I ken weel 
eneuch they're no yours, nor a bit like ye — some o' your 
peowpils, sir, hae jist ca'd [driven) the sowl oot o' her wi' 
stanes." 

" Whaur does the sowl o' a bitch bide ? " asked Goat, in a 
whisper, of his neighbor. 

" De'il kens," answered Gapey; " gin it binna i' the bod- 
dom o* Rob Bruce's wame." 

The master's wrath, ready enough to rise against boys 
and all their works, now showed itself in the growing red- 
ness of his face. This was not one of his worst passions — 
in them he grew white — for the injury had not been done 
to himself, 

" Can you tell me which of them did it ? " 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 8l 

" No, sir. There maun hae been mair nor twa or three at 
it, or she wad hae worried them. The best-natered beast i' 
the toon ! " 

" William Macwha," cried Malison. 

" Here, sir." 

" Come up." 

Willie ascended to the august presence. He had made 
up his mind that, seeing so many had known all about it, 
and some of them had turned cowards, it would be of no 
service to deny the deed. 

" Do you know any thing about this cruelty to the poor 
dog, William?" said the master. 

Willie gave a Scotchman's answer, which, while evasive, 
was yet answer and more. 

" She bet me, sir." 

" When ? While you were stoning her ? " 

" No, sir. A month ago." 

" Ye're a leein' wratch, Willie Macwha, as ye weel ken i' 
yer ain conscience ! " cried Bruce. " She's the quaietest, 
kin'list beast 'at ever was wholpit. See, sir ; jist luik ye 
here. She'll lat me pit my han' in her mou', an' tak' no 
more notice nor gin it was her ain tongue." 

Now whether it was that the said tongue was still swollen 
and painful, or that Juno, conscious of her own ill deserts, 
disapproved of the whole proceeding, I cannot tell ; but the 
result of this proof of her temper was that she made her 
teeth meet through Bruce's hand. 

" Damn the bitch ! " he roared, snatching it away with the 
blood beginning to flow. 

A laugh, not smothered this time, billowed and broke 
through the whole school ; for the fact that Bruce should be 
caught swearing, added to the yet more delightful fact that 
Juno had bitten her master, was altogether too much. 

" Eh ! isna't weel we didna kill her efter a' ? " said Curly. 

" Guid doggie ! " said another, patting his own knee, as if 
to entice her to come and be caressed. 

" At him again, Juno ! " said a third. 

" I'll gie her a piece the neist time I see her," said Curly. 

Bruce, writhing with pain, and mortified at the result of 
his ocular proof of Juno's incapability of biting, still more 
mortified at having so far forgotten himself as to utter an 
oath, and altogether discomfited by the laughter, turned 
away in confusion. 

" It's a' their wyte, the baad boys ! She never did the 



82 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

like afore. They hae ruined her temper," he said, as he left 
the school, following Juno, which was tugging away at the 
string as if she had been a blind man's dog. 

" Well, what have you to say for yourself, William ? " said 
Malison. 

" She began 't, sir." 

This best of excuses would not, however, satisfy the mas- 
ter. The punishing mania had possibly taken fresh hold 
upon him. But he would put more questions first. 

" Who besides you tortured the poor animal ? " 

Curly was silent. He had neither a very high sense of 
honor, nor any principles to come and go upon ; but he had 
a considerable amount of devotion to his party, which is the 
highest form of conscience to be found in many. 

" Tell me their names, sir ! " 

Curly was still silent. 

But a white-headed urchin, whom innumerable whippings, 
not bribes, had corrupted, cried out in a wavering voice : 

" Sanny Forbes was ane o' them ; an' he's no here, 'cause 
Juno worried him." 

The poor creature gained little by his treachery ; for the 
smallest of the conspirators fell on him when school was 
over, and gave him a thrashing, which he deserved more 
than ever one of Malison's. 

But the effect of Alec's name on the master was talis- 
manic. He changed his manner at once, sent Curly to his 
seat, and nothing more was heard of Juno or her master. 

The opposite neighbors stared across, the next morning, 
in bewildered astonishment, at the place where the shop of 
Robert Bruce had been wont to invite the public to enter 
and buy. Had it been possible for an avalanche to fall like 
a thunderbolt from the heavens, they would have supposed 
that one had fallen in the night, and overwhelmed the house. 
Door and windows were invisible, buried with the rude 
pavement in front beneath a mass of snow. Spades and 
shovels in boys' hands had been busy for hours during the 
night, throwing it up against the house, the door having first 
been blocked up with a huge ball, which they had rolled in 
silence the whole length of the long street. 

Bruce and his wife slept in a little room immediately 
behind the shop, that they might watch over their treasures ; 
and Bruce's first movement in the morning was always into 
the shop to unbolt the door and take down the shutters. His 
astonishment when he looked upon a blank wall of snow 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 83 

may be imagined. He did not question that the whole town 
was similarly overwhelmed. Such a snow-storm had never 
been heard of before, and he thought with uneasy recollec- 
tion of the oath he had uttered in the school-room ; imagin- 
ing for a moment that the whole of Glamerton lay over- 
whelmed by the divine wrath, because he had, under the 
agony of a bite from his own dog, consigned her to a quar- 
ter where dogs and children are not admitted. In his 
bewilderment, he called aloud : 

" Nancy ! Robbie ! Johnnie ! We're a' beeriet alive ! " 

" Preserve's a', Robert ! what's happent ? " cried his wife, 
rushing from the kitchen. 

" I'm no beeriet, that I ken o'," cried Robert the younger, 
entering from the yard. 

His father rushed to the back-door, and, to his astonish- 
ment and relief, saw the whole world about him. It was a 
private judgment, then, upon him and his shop. And so it 
•was — a very private judgment. Probably it was the result 
of his meditations upon it, that he never after carried com- 
plaints to Murdoch Malison. 

Alec Forbes had nothing to do with this revenge. But 
Bruce always thought he was at the bottom of it, and hated 
him the more. He disliked all loons but his own ; for was 
not the spirit of loons the very antipodes to that of money- 
making ? But Alec Forbes he hated, for he was the very 
antipode to Robert Bruce himself. Mrs. Bruce always fol- 
lowed her husband's lead, being capable only of two devo- 
tions — the one to her husband and children, the other to the 
shop. — Of Annie they highly and righteously disapproved, 
partly because they had to feed her, and partly because she 
was friendly with Alec. This disapproval rose into dislike 
. after their sons had told them that it was because Juno had 
bitten her that the boys of the school, with Alec for a leader, 
had served her as they had. But it was productive of no 
disadvantage to her ; for it could not take any active form 
because of the money-bond between them, while its negative 
operation gave rise chiefly to neglect, and so left her more 
at liberty to enjoy herself as she could after her own 
fashion. 

For the rest of Juno's existence the moment she caught 
sight of a boy she fled as fast as her four bow-legs would 
carry her, not daring even to let her tail stick out behind her, 
lest it should afford a handle against her. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

When Annie heard that Alec had been bitten she was 
miserable. She knew his bite must be worse than hers, or 
he would not be kept at home. Might she not venture to go 
and see him again ? The modesty of a maidenly child made 
her fear to intrude ; but she could not constrain her feet 
from following the path to his house. And as it was very 
dusk, what harm could there be in going just inside the gate, 
and on to the green ? Through the parlor windows she saw 
the fire burning bright, and a shadow moving across the 
walls and the ceiling ; but she could not make up her mind 
to knock at the door, for she was afraid of Mrs. Forbes, 
notwithstanding her kindness. So she wandered on — for 
here there was no dog — wondering what that curious long 
mound of snow, with the round heap at the end, by the flag- 
staff, could be ? What could Alec have made it for ? Ex- 
amining it closely all along, she came to the end of it next 
the house, and looking round, saw that it was hollow. 
Without a moment's thought, for she had no fear of Alec, 
she entered. The passage was dark, but she groped her 
way, on and on, till she came to the cell at the end. Here 
a faint ghostly light glimmered ; for Alec had cleared a 
small funnel upwards through the roof, almost to the outside, 
so that a thin light filtered through a film of snow. This 
light being reflected from the white surface of the cave, 
showed it all throbbing about her with a faint bluish white, 
ever and anon whelmed in the darkness and again glimmer- 
ing out through its folds. She seated herself on a ledge of 
snow that ran all round the foundation. It was not so cold 
here as in the outer air, where a light frosty wind was blow- 
ing across the world of snow. And she had not sat long 
before, according to her custom when left to herself, she fell 
fast asleep. 

Meantime Alec, his mother having gone to the town, was 
sitting alone, finishing, by the light of the fire, the last of a 
story. At length the dreariness of an ended tale was 
about him, and he felt the inactivity to which he had been 
compelled all day no longer tolerable. He would go and 
see how his snow-chamber looked by candlelight. His 
mother had told him not to go out ; but that, he reasoned, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 85 

could hardly be called going out, when there was not more than 
a yard of open air to cross. So he got a candle, was out of 
the window in a moment, notwithstanding his lameness, and 
crept through the long vault of snow towards the inmost 
recess. As he approached the end he started. Could he 
believe his eyes ? A figure was there — motionless — dead 
perhaps. He went on — he went in — and there he saw 
Annie, leaning against the white wall, with her white face 
turnedupto thefrozenceiling. She might have been the frost- 
queen, the spirit that made the snow, and built the hut, and 
dwelt in it ; for all the powers that vivify nature must be 
children. The popular imagination seems to have caught 
this truth, for alljthe fairies and gnomes and goblins, yes, 
the great giants too, are only different sizes, shapes, and 
characters of children. But I have wandered from Alec's 
thoughts into my own. He knew it was Annie, and no 
strange creature of the elements. And if he had not come, 
she might have slept on till her sleep was too deep for any 
voice of the world to rouse her. 

It was, even then, with difficulty that he woke her. He 
took hold of her hands, but she did not move. He sat 
down, took her in his arms, spoke to her — got frightened 
and shook her, but she would not open her eyes. Her long 
dark eyelashes sloped still upon her white cheek, like the 
low branches of a cedar upon the lawn at its foot. But he 
knew she was not dead yet, for he could feel her heart beat- 
ing. At length she lifted her eyelids, looked up in his face, 
gave a low happy laugh, like the laugh of a dreaming child, 
and was fast asleep again in a moment. 

Alec hesitated no longer. He rose with her in his arms, 
carried her into the parlor, and laid her down on the rug 
before the fire, with a sofa-pillow under her head. There 
she might have her sleep out. When Mrs. Forbes came 
home she found Alec reading, and Annie sleeping by the 
fireside. Before his mother had recovered from her sur- 
prise, and while she was yet staring at the lovely little ap- 
parition. Alec had the first word. 

" Mamma ! " he said, " I found her sleeping in my snow 
hut there ; and if I had not brought her in, she would have 
been dead by this time." 

" Poor little darling ! " thought Mrs Forbes ; but she was 
Scotch, and therefore she did not say it. But she stooped, 
and drew the child back from the fire, lest she should have 
her face scorched, and after making the tea, proceeded to 



86 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

put off her bonnet and shawl. By the time she had got rid 
of them, Annie was beginning to move, and Alec rose to go 
to her. 

" Let her alone," said his mother, " Let her come to her- 
self by degrees. Come to the table." 

Alec obeyed. They could see that Annie had opened her 
eyes, and lay staring at the fire. What was she thinking 
about ? She had fallen asleep in the snow hut, and here she 
was by a bright fire ! 

" Annie, dear, come to your tea," were the first words she 
heard. She rose and went, and sat down at the table with 
a smile, taking it all as the gift of God, or a good dream, 
and never asking how she had come to be so happy. 



CHAPTER XX. 



The spirit of mischief had never been so thoroughly 
aroused in the youth of Glamerton as it was this winter. 
The snow lay very deep, while almost every day a fresh fall 
added to its depth, and this rendered some of their winter- 
amusements impossible ; while not many of them had the 
imagination of Alec Forbes to suggest new ones. At the 
same time the cold increased, and strengthened their im- 
pulses to muscular exertion. 

" Thae loons are jist growin' perfect deevils," said Charlie 
Chapman, the wool-carder, as he bolted into his own shop, 
with the remains of a snowball melting down the back of 
his neck. " We maun hae anither constable to hand them 
in order." 

The existing force was composed of one long-legged, 
short-bodied, middle-aged man, who was so slow in his 
motions, apparently from the weight of his feet, which were 
always dragging behind him, that the boys called him 
Stumpin' Steenie (dim. for " Stephen "), and stood in no 
more awe of him than they did of his old cow — which, her 
owner being a widower, they called Afrs. Stephen — when she 
went up the street, hardly able to waddle along for the 
weight of her udder. So there was some little ground for the 
wool-carder's remark. How much a second constable would 
have availed, however, is doubtful. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 87 

" I never saw sic widdiefows ! " {gallows birds), chimed in 
a farmer's wife who was standing in the shop. " They had 
a tow across the Wast Wynd i' the snaw, an' doon I cam' o' 
ray niz, as sure's your name's Charles Chapman — and mair 
o' my legs oot o' my coats, I doobt, than was a'thegither to 
my credit." 

" I'm sure ye can hae no rizzon to tak' shame o' your legs^ 
gude wife," was the gallant rejoinder ; to which their ownen 
replied with a laugh : 

" They warna made for public inspection, ony gait." 

" Hoot ! hoot ! Naebody saw them. I s' warran' ye 
didna lie lang ! But thae loons — they're jist past a' ! 
Heard ye hoo they saired Rob Bruce ? " 

" Fegs ! they tell me they a' but buried him alive." 

"Ow ! ay. But it's a later story, the last." 

" It's a pity there's no a dizzen or twa o' them in Awbra- 
hawm's boasom. — What did they till him neist ? " 

Here Andrew Constable dropped in, and Chapman turned 
towards him with the question : 

" Did j'<? hear, Mr. Constable, what the loons did to Rob- 
ert Bruce the nicht afore last ? " 

" No. What was that ? They hae a spite at puir Rob, I 
believe." 

" Weel, it didna look a'thegither like respeck, I maun 
alloo. — I was stannin' at the coonter o' his shop waitin' for 
an unce o' sneeshin' ; and Robert he was servin' a bit bair- 
nie ower the coonter wi' a pennyworth o' triacle, when, in a 
jiffy, there cam' sic a blast, an' a reek fit to smore ye, oot o' 
the bit fire, an' the shop was fu' o' reek, afore ye could hae 
pitten the pint o' ae thoom upo' the pint o' the ither. ' Pre- 
serve's a' ! ' cried Rob ; but or he could say anither word, 
butt the house, scushlin in her bauchles, comes Nancy, rin- 
nin', an' opens the door wi' a scraich : ' Preserve's a' ! ' quo' 
she, ' Robert, the lum's in a low ! ' An' fegs ! atween the 
twa reeks, to sunder them, there was nothing but Nancy 
hersel'. The hoose was as fu' as it cud haud, frae cellar to 
garret, o' the blackest reek 'at ever crap oot o' coal. Oot 
we ran, an' it was a sicht to see the crater wi' his lang neck 
luikin' up at the chimleys. But deil a spark cam' oot o' 
them — or reek either, for that matter. It was easy to see 
what was amiss. The loons had been o' the riggin, and 
flung a han'fu' o' blastin' powther down ilka smokin' chim- 
ley, and syne clappit a divot or a truf upo' the mou' o' 't. 
L>eil ane o' them was in sicht, but I doobt gin any o' them 



65 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

was far awa'. There was naething for't but get a ladder, 
and jist gang up an' tak' aff the pot-Hds. But eh ! puir 
Robert was jist rampin' wi' rage ! No 'at he said muckle, 
for he daur hardly open his mou' for sweerin' ; and Robert 
wadna sweer, ye ken ; but he was neither to baud nor 
bin'." 

" What laddies war they, Charles, do ye ken ? " asked 
Andrew. 

" There's a heap o' them up to tricks. Gin I haena the 
rheumateese screwin' awa' atween my shoothers the nicht 
it wonna be their fau'ts ; for as I cam' ower frae the iron- 
monger's there, I jist got a ba' i' the how o' my neck, 'at 
amaist sent me howkin' wi' my snoot i' the snaw. And 
there it stack, and at this preceese moment it's rinnin' doon 
the sma' o' my back as gin 't war a burnie doon a hillside. 
We maun hae mair constables ! " 

" Hoot ! toot ! Charles. Ye dinna want a constable to 
dry yer back. Gang to the gudewife wi' 't," said Andrew, 
" she'll gie ye a dry sark. Na, na. Lat the laddies work it 
aff. As lang's they baud their ban's frae what doesna belang 
to them, I dinna min' a bit ploy noo and than. They'll noo 
turn oot the waur men for a pliskie or twa." 

The fact was, none of the boys would have dreamed of 
interfering with Andrew Constable. Every body respected 
him ; not because he was an elder of the kirk, but because 
he was a good-tempered, kindly, honest man ; or to sum up 
all in one word — a douce chield — by which word douce is indi- 
cated every sort of propriety of behavior — a virtue greatly 
esteemed by the Scotch. This adjective was universally 
applied to Andrew. 

While Alec was confined to the house he had been busy 
inventing all kinds of employments for the period of the 
snow.' His lessons never occupied much of his thoughts, 
and no pains having yet been taken to discover in what 
direction his tastes inclined him, he had of course to cater 
for himself. The first day of his return, when school was 
over, he set off rejoicing in his freedom, for a ramble 
through the snow, still revolving what he was to do next ; 
for he wanted some steady employment with an end in view. 
In the course of his solitary walk, he came to the Wan 
Water, the other river that flowed through the wide valley 
— and wan enough it was now with its snow-sheet over it ! 
As he stood looking at its still, dead face, and lamenting 
that the snow lay too deep over the ice to admit of skating, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 89 

by a sudden reaction, a summer-vision of live water arose 
before him ; and he thought how dehghtful it would be to 
go sailing down the sparkling ripples, with the green fields 
all about him, and the hot afternoon sun over his head. 
That would be better even than scudding along it on his 
skates. His next thought was at once an idea and a resolve. 
Why should he not build a boat ? He would build a boat. 
He would set about it directly. — Here was work for the rest 
of the winter ! 

His first step must be to go home and have his dinner ; 
his next — to consult George Macwha, who had been a ship- 
carpenter in his youth. He would run over in the evening 
before George should have dropped work, and commit the 
plan to his judgment. 

In the evening, then. Alec reached the town, on his way 
to George Macwha. It was a still lovely night, clear and 
frosty, with — yes, there were — millions of stars overhead. 
Away in the north the streamers were shooting hither and 
thither, with marvelous evanescence and re-generation. 
No dance of goblins could be more lawless in its grotesque- 
ness than this dance of the northern lights in their ethereal 
beauty, shining, with a wild ghostly changefulness and 
feebleness, all colors at once ; now here, now there, like a 
row of slender organ-pipes, rolling out and in and along the 
sky. Or they might have been the chords of some gigantic 
stringed instrument, which chords became visible only when 
mighty hands of music struck their keys and set them 
vibrating ; so that, as the hands swept up and down the 
Titanic key-board, the chords themselves seemed to roll 
along the heavens, though in truth some vanished here and 
others appeared yonder. Up and down they darted, and 
away and back — and always in the direction he did not 
expect them to take. He thought he heard them crackle, 
and he stood still to listen ; but he could not be sure that it 
was not the snow sinking and crisping beneath his feet. 
All around him was still as a world too long frozen : in the 
heavens alone was there motion. There this entrancing 
dance of color and shape went on, wide beneath, and taper- 
ing up to the zenith ! Truly there was revelry in heaven ! 
One might have thought that a prodigal son had just got 
home, and that the music and the dancing had begun, of 
which only the far-off rhythmic shine could reach the human 
sense ; for a dance in heaven might well show itself in color 
to the eyes of men — Alec went on till the lights from the 



90 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

windows of the town began to throw shadows across the 
snow. The street was empty. From end to end nothing 
moved but an occasional shadow. As he came near to 
Macwha's shop, he had to pass a row of cottages which 
stood with their backs to a steep slope. Here too all was 
silent as a frozen city. But when he was about opposite the 
middle of the row, he heard a stifled laugh, and then a kind 
of muffled sound as of hurrying steps, and, in a moment 
after, every door in the row was torn open, and out bolted 
the Inhabitants — here an old woman, halting on a stick as 
she came, there a shoemaker, with last and awl in his hands, 
here a tailor with his shears, and there a whole family of 
several trades and ages. Every one rushed into the middle 
of the road, turned right round and looked up. Then arose 
such a clamor of tongues, that it broke on the still air like 
a storm. 

" What's ado, Betty ? " asked Alec of a decrepit old creat- 
ure, bent almost double with rheumatism, who was trying 
hard to see something or other in the air or on the roof of 
her cottage. 

But before she could speak the answer came in another 
form, addressing itself to his nose instead of his ears. For 
out of the cottages floated clouds of smoke, pervading the 
air with a variety of scents — of burning oak-bark, of burn- 
ing leather-cuttings, of damp fire-wood and peat, of the 
cooking of red herrings, of the boiling of porridge, of the 
baking of oat-cake, etc., etc. Happily for all the inhabi- 
tants, " thae deevils o' loons " had used no powder here. 

But the old woman, looking round when Alec spoke, and 
seeing that he was one of the obnoxious school-boys, broke 
out thus : 

" Gang an' tak' the divot {turf) aff o' my lum. Alec, there's 
a good laad ! Ye sudna play sic tricks on puir auld bodies 
like me, near brackin' in twa wi' the rheumateeze. I'm jist 
greetin' wi' the reek i' my auld een." 

And as she spoke she wiped her eyes with her apron. 

Alec did not wait to clear himself of an accusation so 
gently put, but was on the roof of Luckie Lapp's cottage 
before she had finished her appeal to his generosity. He 
took the " divot aff o' her lum " and pitched it half way 
down the brae, at the back of the cottage. Then he 
scrambled from one chimney to the other, and went on 
pitching the sods down the hill. At length two of the inhabi- 
tants, who had climbed up at the other end of the row, met 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 9I 

him, and taking him for a repentant sinner at best, made 
him prisoner, much to his amusement, and brought him 
down, protesting that it was too bad of gentlefolk's sons to 
persecute the poor in that way. 

" I didn't do it," said Alec. 

" Dinna lee," was the curt rejoinder. 

" I'm no leein'." 

" Wha did it, than ? " 

" I can guiss ; an' it shanna happen again, gin I can 
help it." 

" Tell's wha did it, than." 

" I wonno say names." 

" He's ane o' them." 

" The foul thief tak' him ! I s' gie him a hidin'," said a 
burly sutor {shoemaker) coming up. " Thae loons are no to 
be borne wi' ony langer." 

And he caught Alec by the arm. 

'' I didn't do it," persisted Alec. 

"Wha killed Rob Bruce's dog? " asked the sutor, squeez- 
ing Alec's arm to point the question. 

" I did," answered Alec ; " and I will do yours the same 
guid turn, gin he worries bairns." 

" And quite richt, too ! " said the sutor's wife. " Lat him 
gang, Donal. I'll be boun' he's no ane o' them." 

" Tell's a' aboot it, than. Hoo cam' ye up there ? " 

" I gaed up to tak' the divot aff o' Lucky Lapp's lum. 
Spier at her. Ance up I thocht I micht gie the lave o' ye a 
gude turn, and this is a' I get for't." 

•' Weel, weel ! Come in and warm ye, than," said the 
shoemaker, convinced at last. 

So Alec went in and had a chat with them, and then went 
on to George Macwha's. 

The carpenter took to his scheme at once. Alec was a 
fair hand at all sorts of tool-work ; and being on the friend- 
liest terms with Macwha, it was soon arranged that the 
keel should be laid in the end of the workshop, and that, 
under George's directions, and what help Willie chose to 
render. Alec should build his boat himself. Just as they 
concluded these preliminaries, in came Willie, wiping some 
traces of blood from his nose. He made a pantomimic 
gesture of vengeance at Alec. 

" What hae ye been efter noo, laddie ? " asked his 
father. 

** Alec's jist gien me a bluidy nose," said Willie. 



92 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Hoc cam' that aboot ? Ye weel deserved it, I hae nae 
doobt. Jist gie him anither whan he wants it, Alec." 

" What do ye mean. Curly? " asked Alec in amazement. 

*' Yon divot 'at ye flang aff o' Luckie Lapp's riggin'," 
said Curly, '' cam' richt o' the back o' my held, as I lay o' 
the brae, and dang the blude oot at my niz. That's a'. — 
Ye'll preten' ye didna see me, nae doobt." 

" I say. Curly," said Alec, putting his arm round his 
shoulders, and leading him aside, " we maun hae nae mair 
o' this kin' o' wark. It's a dam't shame! Do ye see nae 
differ atween chokin' an ill-faured tyke an' chokin' a puir 
widow's lum ? " 

" 'Twas only for fun." 

" It's ill fun that baith sides canna lauch at, Curly." 

** Rob Bruce wasna lauchin' whan he brocht the bick to 
the schuil, nor yet whan he gaed hame again." 

" That was nae fun. Curly. That was doonricht earnest." 

" Weel, weel. Alec ; say nae mair aboot it." 

" No more I will. But gin I was you, Curly, I wad tak' 
Lucky a seek o' spales the morn." 

" I'll tak them the nicht. Alec. Father, hae ye an auld 
seek only gait ? " 

" There's ane up i' the laft. What want ye wi' a seek ? " 

But Curly was in the loft almost before the question had 
left his father's lips. He was down again in a moment, and 
on his knees filling the sack with shavings and all the chips 
he could find. 

" Gie's a han' up wi't. Alec," he said. 

And in a moment more Curly was off to Widow Lapp 
with his bag of firing. 

" He's a fine chield that Willie o' yours, George," said 
Alec to his father. " He only wants to hae a thing weel 
pitten afore him, an' he jist acts upo' 't direckly." 

" It's weel he makes a cronie o' you, Alec. There's a 
heap o' mischeef in him. Whaur's he aff wi' thae spells ? " 

Alec told the story, much to the satisfaction of George, 
who could appreciate the repentance of his son ; although 
he was " nane o' the unco guid " himself. From that day 
he thought more of his son, and of Alec as well. 

" Noo, Curly," said Alec, as soon as he reappeared with 
the empty sack, "yer father's gaein' to lat me big a boat, an' 
ye maun help me." 

" What's the use o' a boat i' this weather ? " said Curly. 

" Ye gomeril ! " returned his father ; " ye never luik an 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 93 

inch afore the pint o' yer ain neb. Ye wadna think o' a boat 
afore the spring ; an haith ! the summer wad be ower, an' 
the water frozen again, afore ye had it biggit. Luik at 
Alec there. He's worth ten o' you." 

" I ken that ilka bit as weel's ye do, father. Jist set's aff 
wi' 't, father." 

" I canna attend till't jist i' the noo ; but I s' set ye aff 
wi' 't the morn's nicht." 

So here was an end to the troubles of the townsfolk 
from the loons, and without any increase of the constabu- 
lary force ; for Curly being withdrawn, there was no one 
else of sufficiently inventive energy to take the lead, and 
the loons ceased to be dangerous to the peace of the com- 
munity. Curly soon had both his head and his hands quite 
occupied with boat-building. 



CHAPTER XXI. 



Every afternoon now, the moment dinner was over, 
Alec set off for the workshop, and did not return till eight 
o'clock, or sometimes later. Mrs. Forbes did not at all 
relish this change in his habits ; but she had the good sense 
not to interfere. 

One day he persuaded her to go with him, and see how 
the boat was getting on. This enticed her into some 
sympathy with his new pursuit. For there was the boat — a 
skeleton it is true, and not nearly ready for the clothing of 
its planks, or its final skin of paint — yet an undeniable boat 
to the motherly eye of hope. And there were Alec and 
Willie working away before her eyes, doing their best to 
fulfill the promise of its looks. A little quiet chat she had 
with George Macwha, in which he poured forth the praise 
of her boy, did not a little, as well, to reconcile her to his 
desertion of her. 

" Deed, mem," said George, whose acquaintance with 
Scripture was neither extensive nor precise, " to my mind 
he's jist a fulfillment o' the prophecee, ' An auld heid upo' 
young shouthers; ' though I canna richtly min' whilk o' the 
lesser prophets it is that conteens 't." 

But Mrs. Forbes never saw a little figure, lying in a cor- 



94 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ner, half-burled in wood-shavings, and utterly unconscious 
of her presence, being fast asleep 

This was, of course, Annie Anderson, who having heard 
of the new occupation of her hero, had, one afternoon, 
three weeks before Mrs. Forbes' visit, found herself at 
George's shop door, she hardly knew how. It seemed 
to her that she had followed her feet, and they had taken 
her there before she knew where they were going. Peeping 
in, she watched Alec and Willie for some time at their work, 
without venturing to show herself. But George, who came 
up behind her as she stood, and perceived her interest in the 
operations of the boys, took her by the hand, and led her in, 
saying kindly: 

" Here's a new apprentice, Alec. She wants to learn 
boat-biggin'." 

" Ou ! Annie, is that you, lassie ? Come awa'," said Alec. 
" There's a fine heap o' spales ye can sit upo', and see what 
we're aboot." 

And so saying he seated her on the shavings, and half- 
buried her with an armful more to keep her warm. 

" Put to the door, Willie," he added. " She'll be cauld. 
She's no workin*, ye see." 

Whereupon Willie shut the door, and Annie found herself 
very comfortable indeed. There she sat, in perfect content- 
ment, watching the progress of the boat — a progress not 
very perceptible to her inexperienced eyes, for the building 
of a boat is like the building of a city or the making of a 
book: it turns out a boat at last. But after she had sat for 
a good while in silence, she looked up at Alec, and said : 

** Is there naething I can do to help ye. Alec ? " 

" Naething, Annie. Lassies canna saw or plane, ye ken. 
Ve wad tak' aff yer ain lugs in a jiffy." 

.Again she was silent for a long time ; and then, with a 
sigh, she looked up and said : 

** Alec, I'm so cauld ! " 

"I'll bring my plaid to row ye in the morn's nicht." 

Annie's heart bounded for joy ; for here was what 
amounted to an express invitation for to-morrow. 

"But," Alec went on, "come wi' me, and we'll sune get 
ye warm again. Gie's yer han'." 

Annie gave Alec her hand ; and he lifted her out of her 
heap of spales, and led her away. She never thought 
of asking where he was leading her. They had not 
gone far down the close, when a roaring sound fell upon 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 95 

her ear, growing louder and louder as they went on ; till, 
turning a sharp corner, there they saw the smithy fire. The 
door of the smithy was open, and they could see the smith 
at work some distance off. The fire glowed with gathered 
rage at the impudence of the bellows blownig in its face. 
The huge smith, with one arm flung affectionately over the 
shoulder of the insulting party, urged it to the contest; 
while he stirred up the other to increased ferocity by poking 
a piece of iron into the very middle of it. How the angry 
glare started out of it and stared all the murky smiddy in 
the face, showing such gloomy holes and corners in it, and 
such a lot of horse-shoes hung up close to the roof, ready to be 
fitted for unbelievable horse-wear; and making the smith's 
face and bare arms glow with a dusky red, like the hot 
metal, as if he were the gnome-king of molten iron. Then 
he stooped, and took up some coal dust in a little shovel, 
and patted it down over the fire, and blew stronger than 
ever, and the sparks flew out with the rage of the fire. 
Annie was delighted to look at it ; but there was a certain 
fierceness about the whole affair that made her shrink 
from going nearer ; and she could not help feeling a little 
afraid of the giant smith in particular, with his brawny arms 
that twisted and tortured iron bars all day long, — and his 
black, angry-looking face, that seemed forever fighting with 
fire and stiff-necked metal. His very look into the forge- 
fire ought to have been enough to put it out of counte- 
nance. Perhaps that was why it was so necessary to keep 
blowing and poking at it. Again he stooped, caught up a 
great iron spoon, dipped it into a tub of water, and poured 
the spoonful on the fire — a fresh insult, at which it 
hissed and sputtered, like one of the fiery flying serpents of 
which she had read in her Bible — gigantic, dragon-like 
creatures to her imagination — in a perfect insanity of fury. 
But not the slightest motion of her hand lying in Alec's 
indicated reluctance, as he led her into the shop, and right 
up to the wrathful man, saying : 

" Peter Whaup, here's a lassie 'at's maist frozen to deid 
wi' cauld. Will ye tak' her in and lat her stan' by your 
ingleneuk and warm hersel' ? " 

" I'll do that, Alec. Come in by, my bairn. What ca* 
they ye ? " 

" Annie Anderson." 

" Ow, ay ! I ken a' aboot ye weel eneuch. Ye can lea* 
her wi' me, Alec ; I'll luik efter her." , 



96 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" I maun gang back to my boat, Annie," said Alec, then, 
apologetically, " but I'll come in for ye again." 

So Annie was left with the smith, of whom she was not 
the least afraid, now that she had heard him speak. With 
his leathern apron, caught up in both hands, he swept a 
space on the front of the elevated hearth of the forge, clear 
of cinders and dust, and then, having wiped his hands on 
the same apron, lifted the girl as tenderly as if she had been 
a baby, and set her down on this spot, about a yard from 
the fire, on a level with it ; and there she sat in front of the 
smith, looking at the fire and the smith and the work he 
was about, in turns. He asked her a great many questions 
about herself and the Bruces, and her former life at home ; 
and every question he asked he put in a yet kindlier voice. 
Sometimes he would stop in the middle of blowing, and 
lean forward with his arm on the handle of the bellows, and 
look full in the child's face till she had done answering him, 
with eyes that shone in the firelight as if the tears would 
have gathered, but could not for the heat. 

" Ay ! ay ! " he would say, when she had answered him, 
and resume his blowing, slowly and dreamily. For this ter- 
rible smith's heart was just like his fire. He was a dreadful 
fellow for fighting and quarreling when he got a drop too 
much, which was rather too often, if the truth must be told ; 
but to this little woman-child his ways were as soft and 
tender as a woman's ; he could burn or warm. 

** An' sae ye likit bein' at the f erm best ? " he said. 

" Ay. But ye see my father deid — " 

" I ken that, my bairn. The Lord baud a grip o' ye ! " 

It was not often than Peter Whaup indulged in a pious 
ejaculation. But this was a genuine one, and may be worth 
recording for the sake of Annie's answer : 

" I'm thinkin' he bauds a grip o' us a', Mr. Whaup ? " 

And then she told him the story about the rats and the 
cat ; for hardly a day passed just at this time without her 
not merely recalling it but reflecting upon it. And the 
smith drew the back of his hand across both his eyes when 
she had done, and then pressed them both hard with the 
thumb and forefinger of his right hand, as if they ached, 
while his other arm went blowing away as if nothing was 
the matter but plenty of wind for the forge-fire. Then he 
pulled out the red-hot gad, or iron bar, which he seemed to 
have forgotten ever since Annie came in, and, standing with 
his back to her to protect her from the sparks, put it on his 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 97 

anvil, and began to lay on it, as if in a fury ; while the 
sparks flew from his blows as if in mortal terror of the angry 
man that was pelting at the luminous glory laid thus sub- 
missive before him. In fact, Peter was attempting to 
hammer out more things than one, upon that study of his ; 
for in Scotland they call a smith's anvil a study, so that he 
ranks with other artists in that respect. Then, as if anxious 
to hear the child speak yet again, he said, putting the iron 
once more in the fire, and proceeding to rouse the wrath of 
the coals : 

" Ye kent Jeames Dow, than ? " 

"Ay ; weel that. I kent Dooie as weel as Broonie." 

" Wha was Broonie ? " 

" Ow I naebody but my ain coo." 

" An' Jeames was kin' to ye ? " 

To this question no reply followed ; but Peter, who stood 
looking at her, saw her lips and the muscles of her face 
quivering an answer, which if uttered at all, could come 
only in sobs and tears. 

But the sound of approaching steps and voices restored 
her equanimity, and a listening look gradually displaced the 
emotion of her countenance. Over the half-door of the 
shop appeared two men, each bearing on his shoulder the 
socks {sha7-es) of two plows, to be sharpened or set. The 
instant she saw them she tumbled off her perch, and before 
they had got the door opened was half-way to it crying, 
" Dooie ! Dooie ! " Another instant and she was lifted 
high in Dowie's arms. 

" My little mistress ! " exclaimed he, kissing her. " Hoo 
cam' ye here ? " 

" I'm safe eneuch here, Dooie ; dinna be fleyt. I'll tell 
ye a' aboot it. Alec's in George Macwha's shop yonner." 

" And wha's Alec ? " asked Dowie. 

Leaving them now to their private communications, I will 
relate, for the sake of its result, what passed between James 
Dow's companion and the smith. 

" The last time," said the youth, " that ye set my sock, 
Peter Whaup, ye turned it oot jist as saft's potty, and it 
wore oot raither suner." 

" Hoot ! man, ye mistak'. It wasna the sock. It was the 
held that cam' ahin' 't, and kentna hoo to haud it aff o' the 
stanes." 

" Ha ! ha ! ha ! My heid's nae sae saft's yer ain. It's 
no rosten a' day like yours, till it's birstled {scorched) and 



98 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

sung (singed) like a sheep's. Jist gie me a baud o' the taings, 
an' I s' set my sock to my ain min'." 

Peter gave up the tongs at once, and the young fellow 
proceeded to put the share in the fire, and to work the 
bellows. 

" Ye'U never mak' ony thing o' 't that gait," said Peter, as 
he took the tongs from his hand, and altered the position of 
the share for him. " Ye wad hae 't black upo' ae side and 
white upo' the ither. Noo ca [drive) steady, an' dinna blaw 
the fire aff o' the forge." 

But when it came to the anvil part of the work, Peter 
found so many faults with the handling and the execution 
generally, that at length the lad threw down the tongs with 
a laugh and an oath intermingled, saying : 

*' Ye can mak' potty o' 't yersel', than, Peter. Ye jist min' 
me o' the Waesome Carl." 

" What's that o' 't, Rory, man ? " 

" Ow ! naething but a bit sang that I cam' upo' the ither 
day i' the neuk o' an auld newspaper." 

" Lat's hear't," said Peter. " Sing't, Rory. Ye're better 
kent for a guid sang than for settin' socks." 

'* I canna sing 't, for I dinna ken the tune o' 't. I only 
got a glimp' o' 't, as I tell ye, in an auld news." 

" Weel, say't, than. Ye're as weel kent for a guid memory, 
as a guid sang." 

Without more preamble, Rory repeated, with appropriate 
gesture, 

THE WAESOME CARL. 

There cam' a man to oor toon-en', 

An' a waesome carl was he ; 
Wi' a snubbert nose, an' a crookit mou', 

An' a cock in his left ee. 
And muckle he spied, and muckie he spak'; 

But the burden o' his sang 
Was aye the same, and ower again : 

There's nane o' ye a' but's wrang. 

Ye're a' wrang, and a' wrang, 
And a'thegither a' wrang ; 
There's no a man aboot the toon, 
But's a thegither a' wrang. 

That's no the gait to bake the breid, 

Nor yet to brew the yill ; 
That's no the gait to haud the pleach. 

Nor yet to ca the mill. 
That's no the gait to milk the coo, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 99 

Nor yet to spean the calf ; 
Nor yet to fill the girnel-kist — 
Ye kenna yer wark by half. 
Ye're a' wrang, etc. 

The minister was na fit to pray. 

And lat alane to preach ; 
He nowther had the gift o' grace. 

Nor yet the gift o' speech. 
He mind 't him o' Balaam's ass, 

Wi' a differ ye may ken : 
The Lord he open'd the ass's mou' 

The minister open'd 's ain. 
He's a' wrang, etc. 

The puir precenter cudna sing, 

He gruntit like a swine ; 
The verra elders cudna pass 

The ladles till his min'. 
And for the rulin' elder's grace. 

It wasna worth a horn ; 
He didna half uncurse the meat. 

Nor pray for mair the mom. 
He's a' wrang, etc. 

And aye he gied his nose a thraw, 

And aye he crookit his mou'; 
And eye he cockit up his ee. 

And said, " Tak' tent the noo." 
■We leuch ahint oor loof {palm), man. 

And never said him nay : 
And aye he spak' — jist lat him speik ! 

And aye he said his say : 
Ye're a' wrang, etc. 

Quo' oor guidman : ' ' The crater's daft ; 

But wow ! he has the claik ; 
Lat's see gin he can turn a han* 

Or only luik and craik. 
It's true we maunna lippen till him — 

He's fairly crack wi' pride ; 
But he maun live, we canna kill him— 

Gin he can work, he s' bide." 
He was a' wrang, etc. 

" It's true it's but a laddie's turn, 

But we'll begin wi' a sma' thing; 
There's a' thae weyds to gather an' bum— 

An' he's the man for a' thing." 
'We gaed oor wa's, and loot him be, 

To do jist as he micht ; 
We think to hear nae mair o' him, 

Till we come home at nicht; 
But we're a' wrang, etc. 



lOO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

For, losh ! or it was denner-time, 

The'lift {firmament) was in a low ; 
The reek rase up, as it had been 

Frae Sodom-flames. I vow. 
We ran like mad ; but corn and byre 

War blazin' — wae's the fell ! — 

As gin the deil had broucht the fire 

To mak' anither hell. 
'Twas a' wrang, etc. 

And by the blaze the carl stud, 

Wi's han's aneath his tails; 
And aye he said — " I tauld ye sae, 

An' ye're to blame yersel's. 
It's a' your wite (I'laitie), for ye're a' wrang — 

Ye'll maybe own't at last : 
What gart ye burn thae deevilich weyds, 
Whan the win' blew frae the wast ? 
Ye're a' wrang, and a' wrang, 
And a'thegither a' wrang ; 
There's no a man in a' the warl' 
But's a'thegither a' wrang." 

Before the recitation was over, which was performed with 
considerable spirit and truth, Annie and Dowie were Hsten- 
ing attentively, along with Alec, who had returned to take 
Annie back, and who now joined loudly in the applause 
which followed the conclusion of the verses. 

" Faith, that was a chield to hand oot ower frae," said 
Alec to Rory. " And ye said the sang weel. Ye sud 
learn to sing't though." 

" Maybe I may, some day ; gin I cud only get a grainie 
saut to pit upo' the tail o' the bird that kens the tune o' 't. 
What ca' they you, noo ? " 

" Alec Forbes," answered the owner of the name. 

" Ay," interposed Annie, addressing herself to Dowie, 
who still held her in his arms ; " this is Alec, that I tell't ye 
aboot. He's richt guid to me. Alec, here's Dooie, 'at I 
like better nor ony body i' the warl'." 

And she turned and kissed the bronzed face, which was a 
clean face, notwithstanding the contrary appearance given 
to it by a beard of three days' growth, which Annie's kiss 
was too full of love to mind. 

Annie would have been yet more ready to tell Dowie and 
Alec each who the other was, had she not been occupied in 
her own mind with a discovery she had made. For had not 
those verses given evident delight to the company — Alec 
among the rest? Had he not applauded loudest of all? 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. lOI 

— Was there not here something she could do, and so con- 
tribute to the delight of the workmen, Alec and Willie, and 
thus have her part in the boat growing beneath their hands ? 
She would then be no longer a tolerated beholder, indebted 
to their charity for permission to enjoy their society, but a 
contributing member of the working community — if not 
working herself, yet upholding those that wrought. The 
germ of all this found itself in her mind that moment, and 
she resolved before next night to be able to emulate Rory. 

Dowie carried her home in his arms, and on the way she 
told him all about the kindness of Alec and his mother. He 
asked her many questions about the Bruces; but her patient 
nature, and the instinctive feeling that it would make Dowie 
unhappy, withheld her from representing the discomforts of 
her position in strong colors. Dowie, however, had his own 
thoughts on the matter. 

*' Hoo are ye the nicht, Mr. Dow ? " said Robert, who 
treated him with oily respect, because he was not only 
acquainted with all Annie's affairs, but was a kind of natural, 
if not legal guardian of her and her property. "And 
whaur did ye fa' in wi' this stray lammie o' oors ? " 

" She's been wi' me this lang time," answered Dow, 
declining, with Scotch instinct, to give an answer, before he 
understood all the drift of the question. A Scotchman 
would always like the last question first. 

" She's some ill for rinnin' oot," said Bruce, with soft 
words addressed to Dow, and a cutting look flung at Annie, 
"without speirin' leave, and we dinna ken whaur she gangs; 
and that's no richt for lass-bairns." 

" Never ye min' her, Mr. Bruce," replied Dow. '"' I ken 
her better nor you, no meanin' ony offense, seein' she was 
i' my airms afore she was a week auld. Lat her gang whaur 
she likes, and gin she does what she sudna do, I'll tak' a' the 
wyte o' 't." 

Now there was no great anxiety about Annie's welfare in 
the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce. The shop and their own 
children, chiefly the former, occupied their thoughts, and the 
less trouble they had from the presence of Annie the better 
pleased they were — always provided they could escape the 
censure of neglect. Hence it came that Annie's absences 
were but little inquired into. All the attention they did 
show her seemed to them to be of free grace and to the 
credit of their charity. 

But Bruce did not like the influence that James Dow had 



I02 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

with her ; and before they retired for the night, he had 
another lecture ready for Annie. 

" Annie," he said, " it's no becomin' for ane i' your station 
to be sae familiar. Ye'll be a young leddy some day, and 
it's no richt to tak* up wi' servan's. There's Jeames Doo, 
jist a laborin' man, and aneath your station a'thegether, 
and he taks ye up in's airms, as gin ye war a bairn o' 's ain. 
It's no proaper." 

" I like Jamie Doo better nor ony body i' the haill warl," 
said Annie, " excep' — " 

Here she stopped short. She would not expose her heart 
to the gaze of that man. 

" Excep' wha ? " urged Bruce. 

" I'm no gaein' to say," returned Annie, firmly. 

" Ye're a camstairie {perverse) lassie," said Bruce, pushing 
her away with a forceful acidity in the combination of tone 
and p«sh. 

She walked off to bed, caring nothing for his rebuke. 
For since Alec's kindness had opened to her a well of the 
water of life, she had almost ceased to suffer from the 
ungeniality of her guardians. She forgot them as soon as 
she was out of their sight. And certainly they were nicer 
to forget than to remember. 



CHAPTER XXII. 



As soon as she was alone in her room she drew from her 
pocket a parcel containing something which Dowie had 
bought for her on their way home. When undone it 
revealed two or three tallow candles, a precious present in 
view of her hopes. But how should she get a light — for 
this was long before lucifer matches had risen even upon 
the horizon of Glamerton ? There was but one wa5\ 

She waited, sitting on the edge of her bed, in the cold 
and darkness, until every sound in the house had ceased. 
Then she stepped cautiously down the old stair, which 
would crack now and then, use what care and gentleness she 
might. 

It was the custom in all the houses of Glamerton to rest 
the fire ; that is, to keep it gently alive all night by the help 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. IO3 

of a triiff, or sod cut from the top of a peat-moss — a coarse 
peat in fact, more loose and porous than the peat proper — 
which they laid close down upon the fire, destroying almost 
all remaining draught by means of coal-dust. To this 
sealed fountain of light the little maiden was creeping 
through the dark house, with one of her dips in her hand — 
the pitcher with which she was about to draw from the 
fountain. 

And a pretty study she would have made for any child- 
loving artist, when, with her face close to the grate, her 
mouth puckered up to do duty as the nozzle of a pair of 
bellows, one hand holding a twisted piece of paper between 
the bars, and the other buttressing the whole position from 
the floor, she blew at the live but reluctant fire, a glow 
spreading at each breath over her face, and then fading as 
the breath ceased, till at last the paper caught, and lighting 
it up from without with flame, and from within with the 
shine of success, made the lovely child-countenance like 
the face of one that has found the truth after the search of 
weary days. 

Thus she lighted her candle, and again with careful steps 
she made her way to her own room. Setting the candle in 
a hole in the floor, left by the departure of a resinous knot, 
she opened her box, in which lay the few books her aunt 
had thrown into it when she left her old home. She had 
not yet learned to care much about books ; but one of these 
had now become precious in her eyes, because she knew it 
contained poems that her father had been fond of reading. 
She soon found it — a volume by some Scotch poet of little 
fame, whose inward commotions had generated their own 
alleviation in the harmonies of ordered words in which they 
embodied themselves. In it Annie searched for something 
to learn before the following night, and found a ballad the 
look of which she liked, and which she very soon remem- 
bered as one she had heard her father read. It was very 
cold work to learn it at midnight, in winter, and in a garret 
too ; but so intent was she that before she went to bed she 
had learned four or five verses so thoroughly that she could 
repeat them without thinking of what came next, and these 
she kept saying over and over again even in her dreams. 

As soon as she woke in the dark morning she put her 
hand under her pillow to feel the precious volume, which 
she hoped would be the bond to bind her yet more closely 
to the boat and its builders. She took it to school in her 



104 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

pocket, teaming the whole way as she went, and taking a 
roundabout road that her cousins might not interrupt her. 
She kept repeating and peeping every possible moment 
during school hours, and then all the way home again. So 
that by the time she had had her dinner, and the gauzy 
twilight had thickened to " the blanket of the dark," she 
felt quite ready to carry her offering of " the song that 
lightens toil " to George Macwha's workshop. 

How clever they must be, she thought, as she went along, 
to make such a beautiful thing as the boat was now growing 
to ! And she felt in her heart a kind of love for the look of 
living grace that the little craft already wore. Indeed 
before it was finished she had learned to regard it with a 
feeling of mingled awe, affection and admiration, and the 
little boat had made for itself a place in her brain. 

When she entered, she found the two boys already in busy 
talk ; and without interrupting them by a word she took 
her place on the heap of shavings which had remained 
undisturbed since last night. After the immediate consulta- 
tion was over, and the young carpenters had settled to their 
work — not knowing what introduction to give to her offer- 
ing, she produced it without any at all. The boys did not 
know what to make of it at first, hearing something come 
all at once from Annie's lips which was neither question nor 
remark, and broke upon the silence like an alien sound. 
But they said nothing — only gave a glance at each other 
and at her, and settled down to listen and to work. Nor 
did they speak one word until she had finished the ballad. 

"THE LAST WOOING." 
said Annie, all at once, and went on : 

" O lat me in, my bonny lass ! 

It's a lang road ower the hill ; 
And the flauchterin' snaw began to fa', 
As I cam' by the mill." 

" This is nae change-hoose, John Munro, 
And ye needna come nae mair : 
Ye crookit yer mou', and lichtlied me, 
Last Wednesday at the fair." 

" I lichtlied ye ! " " Aboon the glass." 
" Foul fa' the ill-faured mouth 
That made the leein' word to pass, 
By rowin' 't (wrapping) in the truth. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. IO5 

" The fac' was this : I dochtna bide 
To hear yer bonnie name. 
Whaur muckle mous war opened wide 
Wi' lawless mirth and shame. 

" And a' I said was : ' Hoot ! lat sit ; 
She's but a bairn, the lass.' 
It turned the spait {flood) o' words a bit, 
And loot yer fair name pass. " 

" Thank ye for naething, John Munro ! 
My name can gang or bide ; 
It's no a sough o' drucken words 
Wad turn my heid aside." 

" O Elsie, lassie o' my ain ! 

The drift is cauld and Strang ; 
O tak me in ae hour, and syne 
I'll gather me and gang. ' 

•' Ye're guid at flechtin' (wheedling), Jock Munro, 
For ye heedna fause and true : 
Gang in to Katie at the Mill, 
She lo'es sic like as you." 

He turned his fit ; he spak' nae mair. 

The lift was like to fa' ; 
And Elsie's heart grew grit and sair {big and sore). 

At sicht o' the drivin' snaw. 

She laid her doun, but no to sleep. 

For her verra heart was cauld ; 
And the sheets war like a frozen heap 

O' snaw aboot her faul'd. 

She rase fu' ear*. And a' theroot 

Was ae braid windin' sheet ; 
At the door-sill, or winnock-lug {window-comer). 

Was never a mark o' feet. 

She crap a' day aboot the hoose, 

Slow-fittet and hert-sair. 
Aye keekin' oot like a frichtit moose, — 

But Johnnie cam' nae mair ! 

When saft the thow begud to melt 

Awa' the ghaistly snaw, 
Her hert was safter nor the thow, 

Her pride had ta'en a fa'. 

And she oot ower the hill wad gang, 

Whaur the sun was blinkin' bonnie, 
To see his auld minnie {mother) in her cot, 

And speir aboot her Johnnie. 



I06 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

But as alang the hill she gaed, 

Through snaw and slush and weet. 
She stoppit wi' a chokin' cry — 

'Twas Johnnie at her feet. 

His heid was smoored aneath the snaw, 

But his breist was maistly bare ; 
And 'twixt his breist and his richt han', 

He claisp't a lock o' hair. 

'Twas gowden hair : she kent it weel. 

Alack the sobs and sighs ! 
The warm win' blew, the laverock flew. 

But Johnnie wadna rise. 

The spring cam' ower the wastlin {westward) hill 

And the frost it fled awa'; 
And the green grass lukit smilin' up, 

Nane the waur for a' the snaw. 

And saft it grew on Johnnie's grave, 

Whaur deep the sunshine lay; 
But, lang or that, on Elsie's heid 

The gowden hair was gray. 

George Macwha, who was at work in the other end of the 
shop when she began, had drawn near, chisel in hand, and 
joined the listeners. 

" Weel dune, Annie !" exclaimed he, as soon as she had 
finished — feeling very shy and awkward, now that her 
experiment had been made. But she had not long to wait 
for the result. 

" Say't ower again, Annie," said Alec, after a moment's 
pause. 

Could she have wished for more ? 

She did say it over again. 

" Eh, Annie ! that's rale bonnie. Whaur did ye get it ?" 
he asked. 

" In an auld buikie o* my father's," answered she. 

" Is there ony mair in't like it ? " 

" Ay, lots." 

" Jist learn anither, will ye, afore the morn's nicht ?" 

" I'll do that, Alec." 

" Dinna ye like it. Curly ? " asked Alec, for Curly had 
said nothing. 

" Ay, fegs ! {faith)" was Curly 's emphatic and uncritical 
reply. 

Annie therefore learned and repeated a few more, which; 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I07 

if not received with equal satisfaction, yet gave sufficient 
pleasure to the listeners. They often, however, returned to 
the first, demanding it over and over again, till at length 
they knew it as well as she. 

But a check was given for a while to these forenight 
meetings. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



A RAPID thaw set in, and up through the vanishing 
whiteness dawned the dark colors of the wintry landscape. 
For a day or two the soft wet snow lay mixed with water 
over all the road. After that came mire and dirt. But it 
was still so far off spring that nobody cared to be reminded 
of it yet. So when, after the snow had vanished, a hard 
black frost set in, it was welcomed by the schoolboys at 
least, whatever the old people and the poor people, and 
especially those who were both old and poor, may have 
thought of the change. Under the binding power of this 
frost, the surface of the slow-flowing Glamour and of the 
swifter Wan Water, were once more chilled and stiffened 
to ice, which every day grew thicker and stronger. And 
now, there being no coverlet of snow upon it, the boys 
came out in troops, in their iron-clad shoes and their clumsy 
skates, to skim along those floors of delight that the winter 
had laid for them. To the fishes the ice was a warm blan- 
ket cast over them to keep them from the frost. But they 
must have been dismayed at the dim rush of so many huge 
forms above them, as if another river with other and awful 
fishes had buried theirs. Alec and Willie left their boat — 
almost for a time forgot it — repaired their skates, joined 
their school-fellows, and shot along the solid water with 
the banks flying past them. It was strange to see the banks 
thus from the middle surface of the water. All was strange 
about them ; and the delight of the strangeness increased 
the delight of the motion, and sent the blood through their 
veins swift as their flight along the frozen river. 

For many afternoons and into the early nights. Alec and 
Curly held on to the joyful sport, and Annie was for the time 
left lonely. But she was neither disconsolate nor idle. The 
boat was a sure pledge for them. To the boat and her they 



Io8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

must return. She went to the shop still, now and then, to 
see George Macwha, who, of an age beyond the seduction 
of ice and skates, kept on steadily at his work. To him 
she would repeat a ballad or two at his request, and then go 
home to increase her stock. This was now a work of some 
difficulty, for her provision of candles was exhausted, and 
she had no money with which to buy more. The last candle 
had come to a tragical end. For, hearing steps approach- 
ing her room one morning, before she had put it away in its 
usual safety in her box, she hastily poked it into one of the 
holes in the floor and forgot it. When she sought it at 
night, it was gone. Her first dread was that she had been 
found out ; but hearing nothing of it, she concluded at 
last that her enemies the rottans had carried it off and 
devoured it. 

" Deil choke them upo' the wick o' 't ! " exclaimed Curly, 
when she told him the next day, seeking a partner in her 
grief. 

But a greater difficulty had to be encountered. It was 
not long before she had exhausted her book, from which 
she had chosen the right poems by insight, wonderfully 
avoiding by instinct the unsuitable, without knowing why, 
and repelled by the mere tone. 

She thought day and night where additional /a(^?//«;« might 
be procured, and at last came to the resolution of applying 
to Mr. Cowie the clergyman. Without consulting any one, 
she knocked on an afternoon at Mr. Cowie's door. 

" Cud I see the minister ? " she said to the maid. 

" I dinna ken. What do you want ? " was the maid's 
reply. 

But Annie was Scotch too, and perhaps perceived that 
she would have but a small chance of being admitted into 
the minister's presence if she communicated the object of 
her request to the servant. So she only replied, 

" I want to see himsel', gin you please." 

" Weel, come in, and I'll tell him. What's yer name ? " 

" Annie Anderson." 

** Whaur do ye bide ? " 

" At Mr. Bruce's, i' the Wast Wynd." 

The maid went, and presently returning with the message 
that she was to " gang up the stair," conducted her to the 
study where the minister sat — a room, to Annie's amaze- 
ment, filled with books from the top to the bottom of every 
wall, Mr. Cowie held out his hand to her, and said, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. IO9 

" Well, my little maiden, what do you want ?" 

" Please, sir, wad ye len' me a sang-buik ? " 

" A psalm-book ? " said the minister, hesitatingly, supposing 
he had not heard aright, and yet doubting if this could be 
the correction of his auricular blunder. 

" Na, sir ; I hae a psalm-buik at hame. It's a sang-buik 
that I want the len' o'." 

Now the minister was one of the old school — a very 
worthy, kind-hearted man, with nothing of what has been 
called religious experience. But he knew what some of his 
Lord's words meant, and amongst them certain words about 
little children. He had a feeling likewise, of more instinc- 
tive origin, that to be kind to little children was an import- 
ant branch of his office. So he drew Annie close to him, as 
he sat in his easy chair, laid his plump cheek against her 
thin white one, and said in the gentlest way : 

" And what do you want a song-book for, dawtie ? " 

"To learn bonnie sangs oot o', sir. Dinna ye think they're 
the bonniest things in a' the warl', — sangs, sir ? " 

For Annie had by this time learned to love ballad-verse 
above every thing but Alec and Dowie. 

" And what kind o' sangs do ye like ? " the clergyman 
asked, instead of replying. 

" I like them best that gar ye griet, sir." 

At every answer, she looked up in his face with her open 
clear blue eyes. And the minister began to love her, not 
merely because she was a child, but because she was this 
child. 

" Do ye sing them ? " he asked, after a little pause of 
pleased gazing into the face of the child. 

" Na, na ; I only say them. I dinna ken the tunes o' 
them." 

" And do you say them to Mr. Bruce ? " 

" Mr. Bruce, sir ! Mr. Bruce wad say I was daft. I 
wadna say a sang to him, sir, for — for — for a' the sweeties 
i' the shop." 

" Well, who do you say them to ? " 

" To Alec Forbes and Willie Macwha. They're biggin a 
boat, sir ; and they like to hae me by them, as they big, to 
say sangs to them. And 1 like it richt wecl." 

" It'll be a lucky boat, surely," said the minister, " to rise 
to the sound of rhyme, like some old Norse war-ship." 

" I dinna ken, sir," said Annie, who certainly did not 
know what he meant. 



no ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Now the minister's acquaintance with any but the classic 
poets was very small indeed ; so that, when he got up and 
stood before his book-shelves, with the design of trying what 
he could do for her, he could think of nobody but Milton. 

So he brought the Paradise Lost from its place, where it 
had not been disturbed for years, and placing it before her 
on the table, for it was a quarto copy, asked her if that 
would do. She opened it slowly and gently, with a rever- 
ential circumspection, and for the space of about five 
minutes, remained silent over it, turning leaves, and tasting, 
and turning, and tasting again. At length, with one hand 
resting on the book, she turned to Mr. Cowie, who was 
watching with much interest and a little anxiety the result of 
the experiment, and said gently and sorrowfully : 

" I dinna think this is the richt bulk for me, sir. There's 
nae sang in't that I can fin' oot. It gangs a' straucht on, 
and never turns or halts a bit. Noo ye see, sir, a sang aye 
turns roun' and begins again, and afore lang it comes fairly 
to an en', just like a day, sir, whan we gang to our beds an' 
fa' asleep. But this bauds on and on, and there's no end 
till't ava {at all). It's just like the sun that * never tires nor 
stops to rest.' " 

" * But round the world he shines,' " said the clergyman, 
completing the quotation, right good-humoredly, though he 
was somewhat bewildered ; for he had begun to fall a-marvel- 
ing at the little dingy maiden, with the untidy hair and 
dirty frock, who had thoughts of her own, and would not 
concede the faculty of song to the greatest of epic poets. 

Doubtless if he had tried her with some of the short 
poems at the end of the Paradise Regained, which I doubt 
if he had ever even read, she would at least have allowed 
that they were not devoid of song. But it was better 
perhaps that she should be left free to follow her own 
instinct. The true teacher is the one who is able to guide 
those instincts, strengthen them with authority, and illumin- 
ate them with the revelation of their own fundamental truth. 
The best this good minister could do was not to interfere 
with them. He was so anxious to help her, however, that, 
partly to gain some minutes for reflection, partly to get the 
assistance of his daughters, he took her by the hand and led 
her to the dining-room, where tea was laid for himself and 
his two grown-up girls. She went without a thought of 
question or a feeling of doubt ; for however capable she was 
of ordering her own way, nothing delighted her more than 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. Ill 

blind submission, wherever she felt justified in yielding it. 
It was a profound pleasure to her not to know what was 
coming next, provided some one whom she loved did. So 
she sat down to the tea with the perfect composure of submis- 
sion to a superior will. It never occurred to her that she 
had no right to be there ; for had not the minister himself 
led her there ? And his daughters were very kind and 
friendly. In the course of the meal Mr. Cowie having told 
them the difficulty he was in, they said that perhaps they 
might be able to find what she wanted, or something that 
might take the place of it ; and after tea, one of them 
brought two volumes of ballads of all sorts, some old, some 
new, some Scotch, some English, and put them into Annie's 
hands, asking her if that book would do. The child eagerly 
opened one of the volumes, and glanced at a page: it sparkled 
with the right ore of ballad-words. The red, the color 
always of delight, grew in her face. She closed the book 
as if she could not trust herself to look at it while others 
were looking at her, and said with a sigh : 

" Eh, mem ! Ye wonna lippen them baith to me ? " 

" Yes, I will," said Miss Cowie. " I am sure you will take 
care of them." 

" That — / — will,'' returned Annie, with an honesty and 
determination of purpose that made a great impression upon 
Mr. Cowie especially. And she ran home with a feeling of 
richness of possession such as she had never before experi- 
enced. 

Her first business was to scamper up to her room, and 
hide the precious treasures in her kist, there to wait all night, 
like the buried dead, for the coming morning. 

When she confessed to Mr. Bruce that she had had tea 
with the minister, he held up his hands in the manner which 
commonly expresses amazement ; but what the peculiar 
character or ground of the amazement might be remained 
entirely unrevealed, for he said not a word to elucidate the 
gesture. 

The next time Annie went to see the minister it was on a 
very different quest from the loan of a song-book. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

One afternoon, as Alec went home to dinner, he was 
considerably surprised to find Mr. Malison leaning on one 
of the rails of the foot-bridge over the Glamour, looking 
down upon its frozen surface. There was nothing super- 
natural or alarming in this, seeing that, after school was 
over. Alec had run up the town to the saddler's, to get a 
new strap for one of his skates. What made the fact sur- 
prising was, that the scholars so seldom encountered the 
master any where except in school. Alec thought to pass, 
but the moment his foot was on the bridge the master lifted 
himself up, and faced round. 

" Well, Alec," he said, " where havQjou been ? " 

" To get a new strap for my skatcher," answered Alec. 

" You're fond of skating — are you. Alec ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

** I used to be when I was a boy. Have you had your 
dinner?" 

" No, sir. ■' 

" Then I suppose your mother has not dined, either ? " 

"She never does till I go home, sir." 

" Then I won't intrude upon her. I did mean to call this 
afternoon." 

" She will be very glad to see you, sir. Come and take a 
share of what there is." 

" I think I had better not. Alec." 

" Do, sir. I am sure she will make you welcome." 

Mr. Malison hesitated. Alec pressed him. He yielded; 
and they went along the road together. 

I shall not have to show much more than half of Mr. 
Malison's life — the school half, which, both inwardly and 
outwardly, was very different from the other. The moment 
he was out of the school, the moment, that is, that he ceased 
for the day to be responsible for the moral and intellectual 
condition of his turbulent subjects, the whole character — 
certainly the whole deportment — of the man changed. He 
was now as meek and gentle in speech and behavior as any 
mother could have desired. 

Nor was the change a hypocritical one. The master never 
interfered, or only upon the rarest occasions when pressure 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 113 

from without was brought to bear upon him, as in the case 
of Juno, with what the boys did out of school. He was glad 
enough to accept utter irresponsibility for that portion of 
his time ; so that between the two parts of the day, as they 
passed through the life of the master, there was almost as 
little connection as between the waking and sleeping hours 
of a somnambulist. 

But, as he leaned over the rail of the bridge, whither a rare 
impulse to movement had driven him, his thoughts had 
turned upon Alec Forbes and his antagonism. Out of school 
he could not help feeling that the boy had not been very far 
wrong, however subversive of authority his behavior had 
been ; but it was not therefore the less mortifying to think 
how signally he had been discomfited by him. And he was 
compelled moreover to acknowledge to himself that it was 
a mercy that Alec was not the boy to follow up his advantage 
by heading — not a party against the master, but the whole 
school, which would have been ready enough to follow 
such a victorious leader. So there was but one way of set- 
ting matters right, as Mr. Malison had generosity enough 
left in him to perceive ; and that was, to make a friend of 
his adversary. Indeed there is that in the depths of every 
human breast which makes a reconciliation the only victory 
that can give true satisfaction. Nor was the master the only 
gainer by the resolve which thus arose in his mind the very 
moment before he felt Alec's tread upon the bridge. 

They walked together to Howglen, talking kindly the 
whole way ; to which talk, and most likely to which kindness 
between them, a little incident had contributed as well. Alec 
had that day rendered a passage of Virgil with a remarkable 
accuracy, greatly pleasing to the master,.?who, however, had 
no idea to what this isolated success was attributable. I 
forget the passage ; but it had reference to the setting of 
sails, and Alec could not rest till he had satisfied himself 
about its meaning ; for when we are once interested in any 
thing, we want to see it nearer as often as it looms in sight. 
So he had with some difficulty cleared away the mists that 
clung about the words, till at length he beheld and under- 
stood the fact embodied in them. 

Alec had never had praise from Mr. Malison before — at 
least none that had made any impression on him — and he, 
found it very sweet. And through the pleasure dawned the, 
notion that perhaps he might be a scholar after all if he gave, 
his mind to it. In this he was so far right : a fair scholar he 



114 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

might be, though a learned man he never could be, without 
developing an amount of will and effecting a degree of self- 
conquest suiiticient for a Jesuit, — losing at the same time 
not only what he was especially made for knowing, 
but, in a great measure, what he was especially made for 
being. Few, however, are in danger of going so grievously 
against the intellectual impulses of their nature : far more 
are in danger of following them without earnestness, or if 
earnestly, then with the absorption of an eagerness only 
worldly. 

Mrs. Forbes, seeing the pleasure expressed on Alec's 
countenance, received Mr. Malison with more than the usual 
cordiality, forgetting when he was present before her eyes 
what she had never failed to think of with bitterness when 
he was only present to her mind. 

As soon as dinner was over Alec rushed off to the river, 
leaving his mother and the master together. Mrs. Forbes 
brought out the whisky-bottle, and Mr. Malison, mixing a 
tumbler of toddy, filled a wine-glass for his hostess. 

" We'll make a man of Alec some day yet," said he, giving 
an ill-considered form to his thoughts. 

'' 'Deed ! " returned Mrs. Forbes, irritated at the suggestion 
of any difficulty in the way of Alec's ultimate manhood, and 
perhaps glad of the opportunity of speaking her mind — 
"'Deed! Mr. Malison, ye made a bonnie munsie {tnonsieur) 
o' him a month ago. It wad set ye weel to try yer hand at 
makin' a man o' him noo." 

Had Alec been within hearmg, he would never have let 
his mother forget this speech. For had not she, the immac- 
ulate, the reprover, fallen herself into the slough of the 
vernacular ? The fact is, it is easier to speak the truth in a 
patois, for it lies nearer to the simple realities than a more 
conventional speech. 

I do not however allow that the Scotch is a patois in the 
ordinary sense of the word. For had not Scotland a living 
literature, and that a high one, when England could pro- 
duce none, or next to none — I mean in the fifteenth century ? 
But old age, and the introduction of a more polished form 
of utterance, have given to the Scotch all the other advan- 
tages of d. patois, in addition to its own directness and sim- 
plicity. 

For a moment the dominie was taken aback, and sat red- 
dening over his toddy, which, not daring even to taste it, he 
went on stirring with his toddy-ladle. For one of the dis- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. II5 

advantages of a broken life is, that what a person may do 
with a kind of conscience in the one part, he feels compelled 
to blush for in the other. The despotism exercised in the 
school, even though exercised with a certain sense of justice 
and right, made the autocrat, out of school, cower before 
the parents of his helpless subjects. And this quailing of 
heart arose not merely from the operation of selfish feelings, 
but from a deliquium that fell upon his principles in con- 
sequence of their sudden exposure to a more open atmo- 
sphere. But with a sudden perception that his only chance 
was to throw himself on the generosity of a woman, he said: 

" Well, ma'am, if you had to keep seventy boys and girls 
quiet, and hear them their lessons at the same time, perhaps 
you would find yourself in danger of doing in haste what 
you might repent at leisure." 

" Weel, weel, Mr. Malison, we'll say nae mair aboot it. My 
laddie's nane the waur for't noo ; and I hope ye will mak' a 
man o' him some day, as ye say." 

" He translated a passage of Virgil to-day in a manner 
that surprised me." 

"■ Did he though ? He's not a dunce, I know ; and if it 
weren't for that stupid boat he and William Macwha are 
building, he might be made a scholar of, I shouldn't wonder. 
George should have more sense than encourage such a 
waste of time and money. He's always wanting something 
or other for the boat, and I confess I can't find in my heart 
to refuse him, for, whatever he may be at school, he's a good 
boy at home, Mr. Malison." 

But the school-master did not reply at once, for a light 
had dawned upon him : this then was the secret of Alec's 
translation — a secret in good sooth worth his finding out. 
One can hardly believe that it should have been to the 
school-master the first revelation of the fact that a practical 
interest is the strongest incitement to a theoretical 
acquaintance. But such was the case. He answered after 
a moment's pause — 

" I suspect, ma'am, on the contrary, that the boat, of 
which I had heard nothing till now, was Alec's private tutor 
in the passage of Virgil to which I have referred." 

" I don't understand you, Mr. Malison." 

" I mean, ma'am, that his interest in his boat made him 
take an interest in those lines about ships and their rigging. 
So the boat taught him to translate them." 

" I see, I see." 



Il6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" And that makes me doubt, ma'am, whether we shall be 
able to make him learn any thing to good purpose that he 
does not take an interest in." 

" Well, what do you think he is fit for, Mr. Malison ? I 
should like him to be able to be something else than a 
farmer, whatever he may settle down to at last." 

Mrs. Forbes thought, whether wisely or not, that as long 
as she was able to manage the farm, Alec might as well be 
otherwise employed. And she had ambition for her son as 
well. But the master was able to make no definite sug- 
gestion. Alec seemed to have no special qualification for 
any profession ; for the mechanical and constructive faculties 
had. alone reached a notable development in him as yet. So 
after a long talk, his mother and the school-master had come 
no nearer than before to a determination of what he was fit 
for. The interview, however, restored a good understand- 
ing between them. 



CHAPTER XXV. 



It was upon a Friday night that the frost finally broke 
up. A day of wintry rain followed, dreary and depressing. 
But the two boys. Alec Forbes and Willie Macwha, had a 
refuge from the ennui commonly attendant on such weather, 
in the prosecution of their boat-building. Hence it came to 
pass that in the early evening of the following Saturday they 
found themselves in close consultation in George Macwha's 
shop upon a doubtful point involved in the resumption of 
their labor. But they could not settle the matter without 
reference to the master of the mystery, George himself, and 
were, in the meantime, busy getting their tools in order — 
when he entered, in conversation with Thomas Crann the 
mason, who, his bodily labors being quite interrupted by the 
rain, had the more leisure apparently to bring his mental 
powers to bear upon the condition of his neighbors. 

"'It's a sod pity, George," he was saying as he entered, 
" that a man like you wadna, ance for a', tak thoucht a bit, 
and consider the en' o' a' thing that the sun shines upo'." 

** Hoo do ye ken, Thamas, that I dinna tak' thoucht ? " 

" Will ye say 'at ye div tak' thoucht, George ? " 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 1 17 

" I'm a bit o' a Protestant, though I'm naemissionar ; an' 
I'm no incHned to confess, Thamas — meanin' no ill-will to 
you for a' that, ye ken," added George, in a conciliatory 
tone. 

" Weel, weel. I can only say that I hae seen no signs o' 
a savin' seriousness aboot ye, George. Ye're sair ta'en up 
wi' the warl'." 

" Hoo male' ye that oot ? Ye big hooses, an' I mak' doors 
to them. And they'll baith stan' efter you an' me's laid i^ 
the mouls. — It's weel kent forbye that ye hae a bit siller i' 
the bank, and I hae none." 

" Not a bawbee hae I, George. I can pray for my daily 
breid wi' an honest hert ; for gin the Lord dinna sen' 't, I 
hae nae bank to fa' back upo'." 

*' I'm sorry to hear 't, Thamas," said George. — " But Guid 
guide 's 1 " he exclaimed, " there's the twa laddies, heark- 
enin' to ilka word 'at we say ! " 

He hoped thus, but hoped in vain, to turn the current of 
the conversation. 

" A ' the better for that ! " persisted Thomas. " They 
need to be remin't as well as you and me, that the fashion 
o' this warld passeth away. Alec, man, Willie, my lad, can 
ye big a boat to tak' ye ower the river o' Deith ? — Na, ye'U 
no can do that. Ye maun gae through that watshod, I 
doobt ! But there's an ark o' the Covenant that'll carry 
ye safe ower that and a waur flood to boot — and that's the 
flood o' God's wrath against evil-doers. — ' Upon the wicked 
he shall rain fire and brimstone — a furious tempest.' — We 
had a gran' sermon upo' the ark o' the Covenant frae young 
Mr. Mirky last Sabbath nicht. What for will na ye come 
and hear the Gospel for ance and awa' at least, George 
Macwha ? Ye can sit i' my seat." 

" I'm obleeged to ye," answered George ; " but the muckle 
kirk does weel eneuch for me. And ye ken I'm precentor, 
noo, forbye." 

" The muckle kirk ! " repeated Thomas, in a tone of con- 
tempt. " What get ye there but the dry banes o' morality, 
upo' which the win' o' the word has never blawn to pit life 
into the puir disjaskit skeleton. Come ye to oor kirk, an' 
ye'U get a rousin', I can tell ye, man. Eh ! man, gin ye 
war ance convertit, ye wad ken hoo to sing. It's no great 
singin' '■aXye guide." 

Before the conversation had reached this point another 
listener had arrived : the blue eyes of Annie Anderson were 



Il8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

fixed upon the speaker from over the half-door of the work- 
shop. The drip from the thatch-eaves was dropping upon 
her shabby Httle shawl as she stood, but she was utterly 
heedless of it in the absorption of hearkening to Thomas 
Crann, who talked with authority, and a kind of hard elo- 
quence of persuasion. 

I ought to explain here that the vuickle kirk meant the 
parish church ; and that the religious community to which 
Thomas Crann belonged was one of the first results of the 
propagation of English Independency in Scotland. These 
Independents went commonly by the name oi Afissionajs in 
all that district ; a name arising apparently from the fact 
that they were the first in the neighborhood to advocate the 
sending of missionaries to the heathen. The epithet was, 
however, always used with a considerable admixture of con- 
tempt. 

" Are ye no gaein' to get a minister o' yer ain, Thamas ? " 
resumed George, after a pause, still wishing to turn the 
cart-wheels of the conversation out of the deep ruts in which 
the stiff-necked Thomas seemed determined to keep them 
moving. 

" Na ; we'll bide a bit, and try the speerits. We're no 
like you — forced to lat ower {swallow) ony jabble o' luke- 
warm water that's been stan'in' i' the sun frae year's en' to 
year's en', jist because the patron pleases to stick a pump 
intil 't an' ca' 't a well o' salvation. We'll ken whaur the 
water comes frae. We'll taste them a', and cheese accordin'." 

*' Weel, I wadna like the trouble nor yet the responsi- 
bility." 

" I daursay not." 

" Na. Nor yet the shame o' pretennin' to jeedge my 
betters," added George, now a little nettled, as was gener- 
ally the result at last of Thomas's sarcastic tone. 

" George," said Thomas solemnly, " nane but them that 
has the speerit can ken the speerit." 

With these words he turned and strode slowly and 
gloomily out of the shop — no doubt from dissatisfaction 
with the result of his attempt. 

Who does not see that Thomas had a hold of something 
to which George was altogether a stranger? Surely it is 
something more to stand with Moses upon Mount Sinai, and 
see the back of God through ever so many folds of cloudy 
darkness, than be sitting down to eat and drink, or rising 
up to play about the golden calf, at the foot of the mountain. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. II9 

And that Thomas was possessed of some divine secret the 
heart of child Annie was perfectly convinced ; the tone of 
his utterance having a greater share in producing this con- 
viction than any thing he had said. As he passed out she 
looked up reverently at him, as one to whom deep things lay 
open. Thomas had a kind of gruff gentleness towards 
children which they found very attractive ; and this meek 
maiden he could not threaten with the vials of wrath. He 
laid his hard, heavy hand kindly on her head, saying : 

" Ye'U be ane o' the Lord's lambs, will ye no ? Ye'U gang 
into the fold efter him, will ye no ? " 

" Ay will I," answered Annie, " gin He'll lat in Alec and 
Curly too." 

" Ye maun mak' nae bargains wi' him ; but gin they'll 
gang in, he'll no baud them oot." 

And away, somewhat comforted, the honest stonemason 
strode, through the darkness and the rain, to his own rather 
cheerless home, where he had neither wife nor child to wel- 
come him. An elderly woman took care of his house, whose 
habitual attitude towards him was one half of awe and half 
of resistance. The moment he entered, she left the room 
where she had been sitting, without a word of welcome, and 
betook herself to the kitchen, where she prepared his plate 
of porridge or bowl of brose. With this in one hand, and a 
jug of milk in the other, she soon returned, placing them 
like a peace-offering on the table before him. Having com- 
pleted the arrangement by the addition of a horn spoon 
from a cupboard in the wall, she again retired in silence. 
The moment she vanished Thomas's blue bonnet was thrown 
into a corner, and with folded hands and bent head he 
prayed a silent prayer over his homely meal. 

By this time Alec and Curly, having received sufficient 
instruction from George Macwha, were in full swing with 
their boat-building. But the moment Thomas went, Alec 
had taken Annie to the forge to get her well-dried, before he 
VvTOuld allow her to occupy her old place in the heap of spales. 

*' Wha's preachin' at the missionar-kirk the morn, Willie ? " 
asked the boy's father. For Willie knew every thing that 
took place in Glamerton. 

" Mr. Broon," answered Curly. 

" He's a guid man that, ony gait," returned his father. 
" There's nae mony like him. I think I'll turn missionar my- 
scl', for ance and awa', and gang and hear him the morn's 
nicht." 



I20 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

At the same instant Annie entered the shop, her face 
glowing with the heat of the forge and the pleasure of 
rejoining her friends. Her appearance turned the current, 
and no more was said about the missionar-kirk. — Many 
minutes did not pass before she had begun to repeat to the 
eager listeners one of the two new poems which she had got 
ready for them from the book Miss Cowie had lent her. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 



Whatever effect the remonstrances of Thomas might or 
might not have upon the rest, Annie had heard enough to 
make her want to go to the missionar-kirk. For was it not 
plain that Thomas Crann knew something that she did not 
know ? and where could he have learned it but at the said 
kirk ? There must be something going on there worth look- 
ing into. Perhaps there she might learn just what she 
needed to know ; for, happy as she was, she would have 
been much happier had it not been for a something — she 
could neither describe nor understand it — which always rose 
between her and the happiness. She did not lay the blame 
on circumstances, though they might well, in her case, have 
borne a part of it. Whatever was, to her was right ; and 
she never dreamed of rebelling against her position. For 
she was one of those simple creatures who perceive at once 
that if they are to set any thing right for themselves or other 
people, they must begin with their own selves, their inward 
being and life. So without knowing that George Macwha 
intended to be there, with no expectation of seeing Alec or 
Curly, and without having consulted any of the Bruce family, 
she found herself, a few minutes after the service had com- 
menced, timidly peering through the inner door of the 
chapel, and starting back, with mingled shyness and awe, 
from the wide solemnity of the place. Every eye seemed to 
have darted upon her the moment she made a chink of light 
between the door and its post. How spiritually does every 
child-nature feel the solemnity of the place where people, of 
whatever belief or whatever intellectual rank, meet to wor- 
ship God ! The air of the temple belongs to the poorest 
meeting-room as much as to the grandest cathedral. And 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 121 

what added to the effect on Annie was, that the reputation 
of Mr. Brown having drawii a great congregation to hear 
him preach that evening, she, peeping through the door, 
saw nothing but hve faces ; whereas Mr. Cowie's church, to 
which she was in the habit of going, though much larger, 
was only so much the more empty. She withdrew in dismay 
to go up into the gallery, where, entering from behind, she 
would see fewer faces, and might creep unperceived into the 
shelter of a pew ; for she felt " little better than one of the 
wicked " in having arrived late. So she stole up the awfuf 
stair and into the wide gallery, as a chidden dog might 
steal across the room to creep under the master's table. Not 
daring to look up, she went with noiseless difficulty down a 
steep step or two, and perched herself timidly on the edge 
of a seat, beside an old lady, who had kindly made room for 
her. When she ventured to lift her eyes, she found herself 
in the middle of a sea of heads. But she saw in the same 
glance that no one was taking any notice of her, which dis- 
covery acted wonderfully as a restorative. The minister 
was reading, in a solemn voice, a terrible chapter of denun- 
ciation out of the prophet Isaiah, and Annie was soon seized 
with a deep listening awe. The severity of the chapter was, 
however, considerably mollified by the gentleness of the old 
lady, who put into her hand a Bible, smelling sweetly of 
dried starry leaves and southernwood, in which Annie fol- 
lowed the reading word for word, feeling sadly condemned 
if she happened to allow her eyes to wander for a single 
moment from the book. After the long prayer during which 
they all stood — a posture certainly more reverential than the 
sitting which so commonly passes for kneeling — and the 
long psalm, during which they all sat, the sermon began ; and 
again for a moment Annie ventured to look up, feeling pro- 
tected from behind by the back of the pew, which reached 
high above her head. Before her she saw no face but that 
of the minister, between which and her, beyond the front of 
the gallery, lay a gulfy space, where, down in the bottom, 
sat other listening souls, with upturned faces and eyes, 
unseen of Annie, all their regards converging upon the 
countenance of the minister. He was a thin-faced cadaver- 
ous man, with a self-severe saintly look, one to whom reli- 
gion was clearly a reality, though not so clearly a gladness, 
one whose opinions — vague, half-monstrous embodiments of 
truth — helped to give him a consciousness of the life which 
sprung from a source far deeper than his consciousness could 



122 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

reach. I wonder if one will ever be able to understand the 
worship of his childhood — that revering, upward look which 
must have been founded on a reality, however much after 
experience may have shown the supposed grounds of rever- 
ence to be untenable. The moment Annie looked in the 
face of Mr. Brown, she submitted absolutely ; she enshrined 
him and worshiped him with an awful reverence. Nor to 
the end of her days did she lose this feeling towards him. 
True, she came to see that he was a man of ordinary stature, 
and that some of the religious views which he held in com- 
mon with his brethren were dishonoring of God, and there- 
fore could not be elevating to the creature. But when she 
saw these and other like facts they gave her no shock — 
they left the reflex of the man in her mind still unspotted, 
unimpaired. How could this be ? Simply because they 
left unaltered the conviction that this man believed in God, 
and that the desire of his own heart brought him into some 
real, however undefinable relation to him who was yet 
nearer to him than that desire itself, and whose presence 
had caused its birth. 

He chose for his text these words of the Psalmist : " The 
wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that 
forget God." His sermon was less ponderous in construc- 
tion and multitudinous in division than usual ; for it con- 
sisted simply of answers to the two questions : " Who are 
the wicked ? " and " What is their fate ? " The answer to 
the former question was, " The wicked are those that for- 
get God ; " the answer to the latter, *' The torments of ever- 
lasting fire." Upon Annie the sermon produced the imme- 
diate conviction that she was one of the wicked, and that 
she was in danger of hell-fire. The distress generated by 
the earlier part of the sermon, however, like that occasioned 
by the chapter of prophecy, was considerably mitigated by 
the kindness of an unknown hand, which, appearing occa- 
sionally over her shoulder from behind, kept up a counter- 
active ministration of peppermint lozenges. But the repre- 
sentations grew so much in horror as the sermon approached 
its end, that, when at last it was over, and Annie drew one 
long breath of exhaustion, hardly of relief, she became 
aware that the peppermint lozenge which had been given 
her a quarter of an hour before, was lying still undissolved 
in her mouth. 

What had added considerably to the effect of the preach- 
er's words, was that, in the middle of the sermon, she had, all 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 1 23 

at once, caught sight of the face of George Macwha diag- 
onally opposite to her, his eyes looking like ears with the 
intensity of his listening. Nor did the rather comical epi- 
sode of the snuffing of the candles in the least interfere 
with the solemnity of the tragic whole. The gallery was 
lighted by three coronce of tallow candles, which, persisting in 
growing long-nosed and dim-sighted, had, at various periods, 
according as the necessity revealed itself to a certain half- 
witted individual of the congregation, to be snoddcd labori- 
ously. Without losing a word that the preacher uttered, 
Annie watched the process intently. What made it ludi- 
crous was, that the man, having taken up his weapon with 
the air of a pious executioner, and having tipped the chan- 
delier towards him, began, from the operation of some 
occult sympathy, to open the snuffers and his own mouth 
simultaneously ; and by the time the black devouring jaws 
of the snuffers had reached their full stretch, his own jaws 
had become something dragonlike and hideous to behold — 
• when both shut with a convulsive snap. Add to this that he 
was long-sighted and often missed a candle several times 
before he succeeded in snuffing it, whereupon the whole of 
the opening and shutting process had to be repeated, some- 
times with no other result than that of snuffing the candle 
out, which had then to be pulled from its socket and applied 
to the next for re-illumination. But nothing could be further 
from Annie's mood than a laugh or even a smile, though she 
gazed as if she were fascinated by the snuffers, which were 
dreadfully like one of the demons in a wood-cut of the 
Valley of the Shadow of Death in the Pilgrim's Progt-ess 
without boards which had belonged to her father. 

When all had ceased — when the prayer, the singing, and 
the final benediction were over, Annie crept out into the 
dark street as if into the Outer Darkness. She felt the rain 
falling upon something hot, but she hardly knew that it was 
her own cheeks that were being wetted by the heavy drops. 
Her first impulse was to run to Alec and Curly, put her arms 
about their necks, and entreat them to flee from the wrath 
to come. But she could not find them to-night. She must 
go home. For herself she was not much afraid ; for there 
was a place where prayer was heard as certainly as at the 
mercy-seat of old — a little garret room namely, with holes 
in the floor, out of which came rats ; but with a door as 
well, in at which came the prayed-for cat. 

But alas for poor Annie and her chapel-going ! As she 



124 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

was creeping slowly up from step to step in the dark, the 
feeling came over her that it was no longer against rats, nor 
yet against evil things dwelling in the holes and corners of 
a neglected human world, that she had to pray. A spiritual 
terror was seated on the throne of the universe, and was 
called God — and to whom should she pray against it ? 
Amidst the darkness, a deeper darkness fell. 

She kneeled by her bedside, but she could not lift up her 
heart ; for was she not one of them that forgot God ? and was 
she not therefore wicked ? and was not God angry with her 
every day ? Was not the fact that she could not pray a cer- 
tain proof that she was out of God's favor, and counted 
unworthy of his notice ? 

But there was Jesus Christ : she would cry to him. But 
did she believe in him ? She tried hard to convince herself 
that she did ; but at last she laid her weary head on the 
bed, and groaned in her young despair. At the moment a 
rustling in the darkness broke the sad silence with a throb 
of terror. She started to her feet. She was exposed to all * 
the rats in the universe now, for God was angry with her, 
and she could not pray. With a stifled scream she darted to 
the door, and half tumbled down the stair in an agony of fear. 
" What gars ye mak' sic a din i' the hoose o' the Sawbath 
nicht ? " screamed Mrs. Bruce. 

But little did Annie feel the reproof. And as little did she 
know that the dreaded rats had this time been the messen- 
gers of God to drive her from a path in which lies madness. 
She was forced at length to go to bed, where God made 
her sleep and forget him, and the rats did not come near her 
again that night. 

Curly and Alec had been in the chapel too, but they were 
not of a temperament to be disturbed by Mr. Brown's dis- 
course. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 



Little as Murdoch Malison knew of the worlds of 
thought and feeling— Annie's among the rest— which lay 
within those youngfaces and forms assembled the next day 
as usual, he knew almost as little of the mysteries that lay 
within himself. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I25 

Annie was haunted all day with the thought of the wrath 
of God. When she forgot it for a moment it would return 
again with a sting of actual physical pain, which seemed to 
pierce her heart. Before school was over she had made up 
her mind what to do. 

And before school was over Malison's own deed had 
opened his own eyes, had broken through the crust that lay 
between him and the vision of his own character. 

There is not to be found a more thorough impersonation 
of his own theology than a Scotch school-master of the rough, 
old-fashioned type. His pleasure was law, irrespective of 
right or wrong, and the reward of submission to law was 
immunity from punishment. He had his favorites in various 
degrees, whom he chose according to inexplicable directions 
of feeling ratified by " the freedom of his own will." These 
found it easy to please him, while those with whom he was 
not primarily pleased found it impossible to please him. 

Now there had come to the school, about a fortnight 
before, two unhappy-looking little twin orphans, with white, 
thin faces, and bones in their clothes instead of legs and 
arms, committed to the mercies of Mr. Malison by their 
grandfather. Bent into all the angles of a grasshopper, and 
lean with ancient poverty, the old man tottered away with 
his stick in one hand, stretched far out to support his stoop- 
ing frame, and carried in the other the caps of the two for- 
saken urchins, saying, as he went, in a quavering, croaking 
voice, 

" I'll jist tak' them wi' me, or they'll no be fit for the Saw- 
bath aboon a fortnicht. They're terrible laddies to blaud 
{spoil) their claes ! " 

Turning with difficulty when he had reached the d»or, he 
added : 

" Noo ye jist gie them their whups weel, Master Maili- 
son, for ye ken that he that spareth the rod blaudeth the 
bairn." 

Thus authorized. Malison certainly did " gie them their 
whups weel." Before the day was over they had both lain 
shrieking on the floor under the torture of the lash. And 
such poor half-clothed, half-fed creatures they were, and 
looked so pitiful and cowed, that one cannot help thinking 
it must have been for his own glory rather than their good 
that he treated them thus. 

But, in justice to Malison, another fact must be men- 
tioned, which, although inconsistent with the one just 



126 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

recorded, was in perfect consistency with the theological 
subsoil whence both sprang. After about a week, during 
which they had been whipped almost every day, the orphans 
came to school Avith a cold and a terrible cough. Then his 
observant pupils saw the man who was both cruel judge and 
cruel executioner, feeding his victims with licorice till their 
faces were stained with its exuberance. 

The old habits of severity, which had been in some meas- 
ure intermitted, had returned upon him with gathered 
strength, and this day Annie was to be one of the victims. 
For although he would not dare to whip her, he was about 
to incur the shame of making this day, pervaded as it was, 
through all its spaces of time and light, with the fumes of 
the sermon she had heard the night before, the most 
wretched day that Annie's sad life had yet seen. Indeed, 
although she afterwards passed many more sorrowful days, 
she never had to pass one so utterly miserable. The spirits 
of the pit seemed to have broken loose and filled Murdoch 
Malison's school-room with the stench of their fire and 
brimstone. 

As she sat longing for school to be over, that she might 
follow a plan which had a glimmer of hope in it, stupefied 
with her laboring thoughts, and overcome with wretched- 
ness, she fell fast asleep. She was roused by a smart blow 
from the tawse, flung with unerring aim at the back of her 
bare bended neck. She sprang up with a cry, and, tottering 
between sleep and terror, proceeded at once to take the 
leather snake back to the master. But she would have fallen 
in getting over the form had not Alec caught her in his 
arms. He re-seated her, and taking the tawse from her 
trembling hand, carried it himself to the tyrant. Upon him 
Malison's fury, breaking loose, expended itself in a dozen 
blows on the right hand, which Alec held up without flinch- 
ing. As he walked to his seat, burning with pain, the voice 
of the master sounded behind him ; but with the decree it 
uttered. Alec did not feel himself at liberty to interfere. 

'< Ann Anderson," be bawled, " staiid up on the seat." 

With trembling limbs Annie obeyed. She could scarcely 
stand at first, and the form shook beneath her. For some 
time her color kept alternating between crimson and white, 
but at last settled into a deadly pallor. Indeed, it was to 
her a terrible punishment to be exposed to the looks of all 
the boys and girls in the school. The elder Bruce tried 
hard to make her see one of his vile grimaces, but, feeling 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I27 

as if every nerve in her body were being stung with eyes, 
she never dared to look away from the book which she held 
upside down before her own sightless eyes. — This pillory 
was the punishment due to falling asleep, as hell was the 
punishment for forgetting God ; and there she had to stand 
for a whole hour. 

" What a shame / Damn that Malison ! " and various 
other subdued exclamations were murmured about the 
room ; for Annie was a favorite with most of the boys, and 
yet more because she was the General's sweetheart, as they 
said ; but these ebullitions of popular feeling were too faint 
to reach her ears and comfort her isolation and exposure. 
Worst of all, she had soon to behold, with every advantage 
of position, an outbreak of the master's temper, far more 
painful than she had yet seen, both from its cruelty and its 
consequences, 

A small class of mere children, amongst whom were the 
orphan Truffeys, had been committed to the care of one of 
the bigger boys, while the master was engaged with another 
class. Every boy in the latter had already had his share of 
pandies, when a noise in the children's class attracting the 
master's attention, he saw one of the Truffeys hit another 
boy in the face. He strode upon him at once, and putting 
no question as to provocation, took him by the neck, fixed 
it between his knees, and began to lash him with hissing 
blows. In his agony, the little fellow contrived to twist his 
head about and get a mouthful of the master's leg, insert- 
ing his teeth in a most canine and praiseworthy manner. 
The master caught him up, and dashed him on the floor. 
There the child lay motionless. Alarmed, and consequently 
cooled. Malison proceeded to lift him. He was apparently 
lifeless ; but he had only fainted with pain. When he came 
to himself a little, it was found that his leg was hurt. It 
appeared afterwards that the knee-cap was greatly injured. 
Moaning with pain, he was sent home on the back of a big 
parish scholar. 

At all this Annie stared from her pillory with horror. The 
feeling that God was angry with her grew upon her ; and 
Murdoch Malison became for a time inseparably associ- 
ated with her idea of God, frightfully bewildering all her 
aspirations. 

The master still looked uneasy, threw the ta^:; into his 
desk, and beat no one more that day. Indeed, only half an 
hour of school-time was left. As soon as that was over, he 



128 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

set off at a swinging pace for the old grandfather's 
cottage. 

What passed there was never known. The other Truffey 
came to school the next day as usual, and told the boys that 
his brother was in bed. In that bed he lay for many weeks, 
and many were the visits the master paid him. This did 
much with the townsfolk to wipe away his reproach. They 
spoke of the affair as an unfortunate accident, and pitied 
the school-master even more than the sufferer. 

When at length the poor boy was able to leave his bed, it 
became apparent that, either through unskillful treatment, or 
as the unavoidable result of the injury, he would be a cripple 
for life. 

The master's general behavior was certainly modified by 
this consequence of his fury ; but it was some time before 
the full reaction arrived. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 



When Annie descended from her hateful eminence, just 
before the final prayer, it was with a deeper sense of degra- 
dation than any violence of the tawse on her poor little 
hands could have produced. Nor could the attentions of 
Alec, anxiously offered as soon as they were out of school, 
reach half so far to console her as they might once have 
reached ; for such was her sense of condemnation, that she 
dared not take pleasure in any thing. Nothing else was 
worth minding till something was done about that. The 
thought of having God against her took the heart out of 
every thing. — As soon as Alec left her, she walked with 
hanging head, pale face and mournful eyes, straight to Mr. 
Cowie's door. 

She was admitted at once, and shown into the library, 
where the clergyman sat in the red, dusky glow of the fire- 
light, sipping a glass of wine, and looking very much like 
an ox-animal chewing the cud ; for the meditation in which 
the good man indulged over his wine was seldom worthy of 
being characterized otherwise than as mental rumination. 

" Well, Annie, my dear, come away," said he, " I am glad 
to see you. How does the boat get on ? " 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I29 

Deeply touched by a kindness which fell like dew upon 
the parching misery of the day, Annie burst into tears. Mr. 
Cowie was greatly distressed. He drew her between his 
knees, laid his cheek against hers, as was his way with chil- 
dren, and said with soothing tenderness : 

" Walawa ! what's the matter with my dawtie ? " 

After some vain attempts at speech, Annie succeeded in 
giving the following account of the matter, much interrupted 
with sobs and fresh outbursts of weeping. 

" Ye see, sir, I gaed last nicht to the missionar kirk to 
hear Mr. Broon. And he preached a gran' sermon, sir. 
But I haena been able to bide mysel' sin' syne. For I 
doobt I'm ane o' the wicked 'at God hates, and I'll never 
win' to haven at a', for I canna help forgettin' him whiles. 
An' the wicked'U be turned into hell, and a' the nations 
that forget God. That was his text, sir. And I canna 
bide it." 

In the bosom of the good man rose a gentle indignation 
against the schismatics who had thus terrified and bewil- 
dered that sacred being, a maid-child. But what could he 
say ? He thought for a moment, and betook himself, in his 
perplexity, to his common sense. 

" You haven't forgot your father, have you, Annie ? " 
said he. 

" I think aboot him maist ilka day," answered Annie. 

" But there comes a day now and then when you don't 
think much about him, does there not ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Do you think he would be angry with his child because 
she was so much taken up with her books or her play " 

" I never play at ony thing, sir." 

" Well — with learning songs to say to Alec Forbes and 
Willie Macwha — do you think he would be angry that you 
didn't think about him that day, especially when you can't 
see him ? " 

" 'Deed no, sir. He wadna be sae sair upo' me as that." 

" What would he say, do you think ? " 

" Gin Mr. Bruce war to cast it up till me, he wad say : 
* Let alane the lassie. She'll think aboot me the morn — 
time eneuch.' " 

" Well, don't you think your Father in heaven would say 
the same ? " 

" Maybe he micht, sir. But you see my father was my 
ain father, and wad mak' the best o' me." 



130 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

** And is not God kinder than your father ? " 

" He canna weel be that, sir. And there's the Scripter ! " 

" But he sent his only Son to die for us." 

" Ay — for the eleck, sir," returned the Httle theologian. 

Now this was more than Mr. Cowie was well prepared to 
meet, for certainly this terrible doctrine was perfectly devel- 
oped in the creed of the Scotch Church ; the assembly of 
divines having sat upon the Scripture egg till they had 
hatched it in their own likeness. Poor Mr. Cowie ! There 
were the girl-eyes, blue, and hazy with tearful questions, 
looking up at him hungrily. — O starving little brothers and 
sisters ! God does love you, and all shall be, and therefore 
is, well. — But the minister could not say this, gladly as he 
would have said it if he could ; and the only result of his 
efforts to find a suitable reply was that he lost his temper 
— not with Annie, but with the doctrine of election. 

" Gang ye hame, Annie, my bairn," said he, talking Scotch 
now, " and dinna trouble yer held about election, and a* 
that. It's no' a canny doctrine. No mortal man could ever 
win at theboddom o' 't. I'm thinkin' we haena muckle to 
do w' 't. Gang hame, dawtie, and say yer prayers to be pre- 
served frae the wiles o' Sawtan. There 's a sixpence to ye." 

His kind heart was sorely grieved that all he could give 
was money. She had asked for bread, and he had but a 
stone, as he thought, to give her. So he gave it her with 
shame. He might, however, have reversed the words of 
St. Peter, saying, *' Spiritual aid I have none, but such as I 
have give I thee ; " and so offered her the sixpence. But, 
for my part, I think the sixpence had more of bread in it 
than any theology he might have been expected to have 
at hand ; for, so given, it was the symbol and the sign of 
love, which is the heart of the divine theology. 

Annie, however, had a certain Scotchness in her which 
made her draw back from the offer. 

" Na, thank ye, sir," she said ; " I dinna want it." 

" Will ye no tak' it to please an auld man, bairn ? " 

" 'Deed will I, sir. I wad do a hantle mair nor that to 
please you." 

And again the tears filled her blue eyes as she held out 
her hand — receiving in it a shilling which Mr. Cowie, for 
more relief to his own burdened heart, had substituted for 
the sixpence. 

" It's a shillin', sir ! " she said, looking up at him with the 
coin lying on her open palm. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I3I 

" Weel, what for no ? Is a shillin' no a saxpence ? " 

" Ay, sir. It's twa." 

" Weel, Annie," said the old man, suddenly elevated into 
prophecy for the child's need — for he had premeditated 
nothing of the sort — " maybe whan God offers us a saxpence, 
it may turn oot to be twa. Good nicht, my bairn." 

But Mr. Cowie was sorely dissatisfied with himself. For 
not only did he perceive that the heart of the child could 
not be thus satisfied, but he began to feel something new 
stirring in his own bosom. The fact was that Annie was 
further on than Mr. Cowie. She was a child looking about 
to find the face of her Father in heaven : he was but one of 
God's babies, who had been lying on his knees, receiving 
contentedly and happily the good things he gave him, but 
never looking up to find the eyes of him from whom the 
good gifts came. And now the heart of the old man, 
touched by the motion of the child's heart — yearning after 
her Father in heaven, and yet scarcely believing that he 
could be so good as her father on earth — began to stir 
uneasily within him. And he went down on his knees and 
hid his face in his hands. 

But Annie, though not satisfied, went away comforted. 
After such a day of agony and humiliation, Mr. Cowie's kiss 
came gracious with restoration and blessing. It had some- 
thing in it which was not in Mr. Brown's sermon. And yet 
if she had gone to Mr. Brown, she would have found him 
kind too — very kind ; but solemnly kind — severely kind ; 
his long, saintly face beaming with religious tenderness — not 
human cordiality ; and his heart full of interest in her spir- 
itual condition, not sympathy with the unhappiness which 
his own teaching had produced ; nay, rather inclined to 
gloat over this unhappiness as the sign of grace bestowed 
and an awakening conscience. 

But notwithstanding the comfort Mr. Cowie had given 
her — the best he had, poor man ! — Annie's distress soon 
awoke again. To know that she could not be near God in 
peace and love without fulfilling certain mental conditions — 
that he would not have her just as she was now, filled her 
with an undefined but terribly real misery, only the more 
distressing that it was vague with the vagueness of the dis- 
mal negation from which it sprang. 

It was not however the strength of her love to God that 
made her unhappy in being thus barred out from him. It 
was rather the check thus given to the whole upward ten- 



132 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

dency of her being, with its multitude of undefined hopes 
and longings now drawing nigh to the birth. It was in her 
ideal self rather than her conscious self that her misery 
arose. And now, dearly as she loved Mr. Cowie, she began 
to doubt whether he knew much about the matter. He had 
put her off without answering her questions, either because 
he thought she had no business with such things, or because 
he had no answer to give. This latter possibly added not a 
little to her unhappiness, for it gave birth to a fearful doubt 
as to the final safety of kind Mr. Cowie himself. 

But there was one man who knew more about such secret 
things, she fully believed, than any man alive ; and that man 
was Thomas Crann. Thomas was a rather dreadful man, 
with his cold eyes, high shoulders, and wheezing breath ; 
and Annie was afraid of him. But she would have 
encountered the terrors of the Valley of the Shadow of 
Death, as surely as the Pilgrim, to get rid of the demon 
nightmare that lay upon her bosom, crushing the life out of 
her heart. So she plucked up courage, like Christian of 
old, and resolved to set out for the house of the Interpreter. 
Judging, however, that he could not yet be home from his 
work, she thought it better to go home herself first. 

After eating a bit of oat cake, with a mug of blue milk 
for kite/lie [Latin " obsonium "), she retired to her garret and 
waited drearily, but did not try to pray. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 



It was very dark by the time she left the house, for the 
night was drizzly ; but she knew the windings of Glamexton 
almost as well as the way up her garret-stair. Thomas's 
door was half open, and a light was shining from the 
kitchen. She knocked timidly. At the same moment she 
heard the voice of Thomas from the other end of the house, 
which consisted only of a but and a ben. In the ben-end {the 
inner originally, hence better rooni) there was no light : 
Thomas often sat in the dark. 

" Jean, come ben to worship," he cried roughly. 

"Comin", Thamas," answered Jean. 

Again Annie knocked, but again without result. Her 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I33 

knock was too gentle. After a moment's pause, dreading 
that the intended prayers might interfere with her project, 
she knocked yet again ; but a second time her knock was 
overwhelmed in the gruff call of Thomas, sounding yet 
more peremptory than before. 

" Jean, come ben to worship." 

" Hoot, Thamas, hae patience, man. I canna come." 

" Jean, come ben to worship direckly." 

" I'm i' the mids' o' cleanin' the shune. I hae double 
work o' Mononday, ye ken." 

" The shune can bide." 

"Worship can bide." 

" Hand yer tongue. The shune can bide." 

'* Na, na ; they canna bide." 

" Gin ye dinna come ben this minute, I'll hae worship my 
lane." 

Vanquished by the awful threat, Jean dropped the shoe 
she held, and turned her apron ; but having to pass the door 
on her way to the ben-end, she saw Annie standing on the 
threshold, and stopped with a start, ejaculating : 

" The Lord preserve's, lassie ! " 

" Jean, what are ye sweerin' at ? " cried Thomas, angrily. 

'* At Annie Anderson," answered Jean simply. 

"What for are ye sweerin' ^X her ? I'm sure she's a 
douce lassie. What does the bairn want ? " 

" What do ye want, Annie ? " 

" I want to see Thomas, gin ye please," answered Annie. 

" She wants to see you, Thomas," screamed Jean ; re- 
marking in a low voice, " He's as deef's a door-nail, Annie 
Anderson." 

" Let her come in, than," bawled Thomas. 

" He's tellin' ye to come in, Annie," said Jean, as if she 
had been interpreting his words. But she detained her 
nevertheless to ask several important questions. At length 
the voice of Thomas rousing her once more, she hastened to 
introduce her. 

" Gang in there, Annie," she said, throwing open the door 
of the dark room. The child entered and stood just within 
it, not knowing even where Thomas sat. But a voice came 
to her out of the gloom : 

"Ye're no feared at the dark, are ye, Annie? Come in." 

*' I dinna ken whaur I'm gaein'." 

" Never min' that. Come straucht foret. I'm watchin' 
ye." 



134 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

For Thomas had been sitting in the dark till he could see 
in it (which, however, is not an invariable result), while out 
of the little light Annie had come into none at all. But she 
obeyed the voice, and went straight forward into the dark, 
evidently much to the satisfaction of Thomas, who, seizing 
her arm with one hand, laid the other, horny and heavy, on 
her head, saying : 

" Noo, my lass, ye'U ken what faith means. Whan God 
tells ye to gang into the mirk, gang ! " 

" But I dinna like the mirk," said Annie. 

" No human sowl can^' responded Thomas. " Jean, fess 
a can'le direckly." 

Now Thomas was an enemy to every thing that could be, 
justly or unjustly, called superstition ; and this therefore was 
not the answer that might have been expected of him. But 
he had begun with the symbolic and mystical in his recep- 
tion of Annie, and perhaps there was something in the 
lovely childishness of her unconscious faith (while she all 
the time thought herself a dreadful unbeliever) that kept 
Thomas to the simplicities of the mystical part of his nature. 
Besides, Thomas's mind was a rendezvous for all extremes. 
In him they met, and showed that they met by fighting all 
day long. If you knocked at his inner door, you never 
could tell what would open it to you — all depending on what 
happened to be uppermost in the wrestle. 

The candle was brought and set on the table, showing 
two or three geranium plants in the window. Why her eyes 
should have fixed upon these, Annie tried to discover after- 
wards, when she was more used to thinking. But she could 
not tell, except it were that they were so scraggy and 
wretched, half drowned in the darkness, and half blanched 
by the miserable light, and therefore must have been very 
like her own feelings, as she stood before the ungentle but 
not unkind stone-mason. 

" Weel, lassie," said he, when Jean had retired, " what do 
ye want wi' me ? " 

Annie burst into tears again. 

" Jean, gae butt the hoose direckly," cried Thomas, on 
the mere chance of his attendant having lingered at the 
door. And the sound of her retreating footsteps, though 
managed with all possible care, immediately justified his 
suspicion. This interruption turned Annie's tears aside, 
and when Thomas spoke next, she was able to reply. 

" Noo, my bairn," he said, " what's the maitter ? " 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I35 

" I was at the missionar kirk, last nicht," faltered Annie. 

" Ay ! And the sermon took a grip o' ye ? — Nae doot, 
nae doot. Ay. Ay." 

" I canna help forgettin' Hi'm, Thomas." 

" But ye maun try and no forget Him lassie." 

" Sae I do. But it's dour wark, and 'maist impossible. 

" Sae it maun aye be ; to the auld Aidam impossible ; to 
the young Christian a weary watch." 

Hope began to dawn upon Annie. 

"A body micht hae a chance," she asked with meditative 
suggestion, " allooin' 'at she did forget Him whiles ? " 

" Nae doot, lassie. The nations that forget God are them 
that dinna care, that never fash their heids, or their hearts 
aither, aboot Him — them that were never called, never 
chosen." 

Annie's trouble returned like a sea-wave that had only 
retired to gather strength. 

" But hoo's a body to ken whether she de ane o' the 
elec' ? " she said, quaking. 

" That's a hard maitter. It's no needfu' to ken't afore- 
han'. Just lat that alane i' the mean time." 

" But I canna lat it alane. It's no for mysel' aither a'the- 
gither. Could jr lat it alane, Thomas?" 

This home-thrust prevented any questioning about the 
second clause of her answer. And Thomas dearly loved 
plain dealing. 

" Ye hae me there, lassie. Na, I cudnalat it alane. An' 
I never did lat it alane. I plaguit the Lord nicht an* day 
till he loot me ken." 

" I tried hard last nicht," said Annie, " but the rottans 
war ower mony for me.." 

"Sawtan has mony wiles," said the mason reflectively. 

" Do ye think they warna rottans ? " asked Annie. 

" Ow ! nae doot. I daursay." 

" 'Cause, gin I thocht they war only deils, I wadna care 
a buckie {jycriwinkle) for them." 

*' It's muckle the same what ye ca' them, gin they ca' you 
frae the throne o' grace, lassie." 

" What am I to do than, Thomas ? " 

" Ye maun baud at it, lassie, jist as the poor widow did 
wi' the unjust judge. An' gin the Lord hears ye, ye'U ken 
ye're ane o' the elec', for it's only his own elec' that the 
Lord dis hear. Eh ! lassie, little ye ken aboot prayin' an' 
no faintin'." 



136 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

Alas for the parable if Thomas's theories were to be car- 
ried out in its exposition ! For they would lead to the con- 
clusion that the Lord and the unjust judge were one and 
the same person. But it is our divine aspirations and not 
our intellectual theories that need to be carried out. The 
latter may, nay must, in some measure, perish ; the former 
will be found in perfect harmony with the divine Will : yea, 
true though faint echoes of that Will — echoes from the un- 
known caves of our deepest humanity, where lies, yet 
swathed in darkness, the divine image. 

To Thomas's words Annie's only reply was a fixed gaze 
which he answered thus, resuming his last words : 

" Ay, lassie, little ye ken aboot watchin' an' prayin'. 
Whan it pleased the Lord to call me, Iwasstan'in' in my lane 
i' the mids' o' a peat-moss, luikin' wast, whaur the sun had 
left a reid licht ahin him, as gin he had jist brunt oot o' the 
lift, an' hadna gane doon ava. An' it min'd me o' the day 
o' jeedgment. An' there I steid and luikit, till the licht 
itsel' deid oot, an' naething was left but a gray sky an' a 
feow starns intil't. An' the cloods gethered, an' the lift 
grew black an' mirk ; an' the hail countryside vanished till I 
kent no more aboot it than what my twa feet could answer 
for. An' I daurna muv for the fear o' the pits o' water an' 
the walleen {jvell-eyes — quagmire-springs) on ilka han'. The 
lee-lang nicht I stood, or lay, or kneeled upo' my k-nees, 
cryin' to the Lord for grace. I forgot a' aboot election, an' 
cried jist as gin I could gar him hear me by haudin' at him. 
An' i' the mornin', whan the licht cam', 1 faund that my 
face was to the risin' sun. An' I crap oot o' the bog, an' 
hame to my ain hoose. An' ilka body 'at I met o' the road 
took the tither side o' 't, and glowejt at me as gin I had 
been a ghaist or a warlock. An' the bairns playin' aboot 
the doors ran in like rabbits whan they got sicht o' me. An' 
I begud to think 'at something fearsome had signed me for 
a reprobate ; an' I jist closed my door, and gaed to my 
bed, and loot my wark stan', for wha cud wark wi' damna- 
tion hingin' ower his held ? An' three days gaed ower me, 
that nothing passed my lips but a drap o' milk an' water. 
An' o' the fourth day, i' the efternoon, I gaed to my wark 
w' my held swimmin' and my hert like to brak for verra 
glaidness. I was ane o' the chosen." 

" But hoo did ye fin' that oot, Thomas ? " asked Annie, 
trembling. 

** Weel, lassie," answered Thomas with solemn conviction 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 137 

in every tone, *' it's my firm belief that, say what they like, 
there is, and there can be, but one way o* comin' to the 
knowledge o' that secret." 

" And what's that? " entreated Annie, whose life seemed 
to hang upon his lips. 

" Jist this. Get a sicht o' the face o' God. — It's my 
belief, an' a' the minnisters in creation'll no gar me alter my 
min', that no man can get a glimp' o' the face o' God but 
ane o' the chosen. I'm no sayin' 'at a man's no ane o' the 
elec' that hasna had that favor vouchsafed to him ; but this 
I do say, that he canna ken his election wi'oot that. Try ye 
to get a sicht o' the face o' God, lassie : syne ye'll ken and 
be at peace. Even Moses himsel' cudna be satisfeed wi'oot 
that." 

" What is't like, Thomas ? " said Annie, with an eager- 
ness which awe made very still. 

" No words can tell that. It's all in the speerit. Whan 
ye see't ye'll ken't. There's no fear o' mistakin' that." 

Teacher and scholar were silent. Annie was the first to 
speak. She had gained her quest. 

" Am I to gang hame noo, Thomas ? " 

" Ay, gang hame, lassie, to yer prayers. But I doobt it's 
dark. I'll gang wi' ye. — Jean, my shune ! " 

" Na, na ; I could gang hame blinlins," remonstrated 
Annie. 

** Haud yer tongue. I'm gaein' hame wi' ye, bairn. — 
Jean, my shune ! " 

" Hoot, Thamas ! I've jist cleaned them," screeched Jean 
from the kitchen at the second call. 

" Fess them here direckly. It's a jeedgment on ye for 
sayin' worship cud bide better nor the shune." 

Janet brought them and put them down sulkily. In 
another minute the great shoes, full of nails half an inch 
broad, were replaced on the tired feet, and with her soft lit- 
tle hand clasped in the great horny hand of the stonemason, 
Annie trotted home by his side. With Scotch caution, 
Thomas, as soon as they entered the shop, instead of taking 
leave of Annie, went up to the counter, and asked for an 
" unce o' tobawco," as if his appearance along with Annie 
were merely accidental ; while Annie, with perfect appreci- 
ation of the reticence, ran through the gap in the counter. 

She was so far comforted and so much tired, that she fell 
asleep at her prayers by the bedside. Presently she awoke 
in terror. It was Pussy however that had waked her, as 



138 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

she knew by the green eyes lamping in a corner. But she 
closed her prayers rather abruptly, clambered into bed, and 
was soon fast asleep. 

And in her sleep she dreamed that she stood in the dark- 
ness of the same peat-moss which had held Thomas and his 
prayers all the night long. She thought she was kept in 
there, till she should pray enough to get herself out of it. 
And she tried hard to pray, but she could not. And she 
fell down in despair, beset with the terrors of those frightful 
holes full of black water which she had seen on her way to 
Glamerton. But a hand came out of the darkness, laid hold 
of hers, and lifting her up, led her through the bog. And 
she dimly saw the form that led her, and it was that of a 
man who walked looking upon the earth. And she tried to 
see his face but she could not, for he walked ever a little 
before her. And he led her home to the old farm. And her 
father came to the door to meet them. And he looked just 
the same as in the old happy days, only that his face was 
strangely bright. And with the joy of seeing her father she 
awoke to a gentle sorrow that she had not seen also the face 
of her deliverer. 

The next evening she wandered down to George Mac- 
wha's, and found the two boys at work. She had no poetry 
to give them, no stories to tell them, no answer to their 
questions as to where she had been the night before. She 
could only stand in silence and watch them. The skeleton 
of the boat grew beneath their hands, but it was on the 
workers and not on their work that her gaze was fixed. 
For her heart was burning within her, and she could hardly 
restrain herself from throwing her arms about their necks 
and imploring them to seek the face of God. Oh ! if she 
only knew that Alec and Curly were of the elect ! But they 
only could find that out. There was no way for her to peer 
into that mystery. All she could do was to watch their 
wants, to have the tool they needed next ready to their hand, 
to clear away the spales from before the busy plane, and to 
lie in wait for any chance of putting to her little strength to 
help. Perhaps they were not of the elect ! She would min- 
ister to them therefore — oh, how much the more tenderly ! 

" What's come ower Annie?" said the one to the other 
when she had gone. 

But there was no answer to be found to the question. 
Could they have understood her if she had told them what 
had come over her ? 



CHAPTER XXX. 

And so the time went on, slow-paced, with its silent 
destinies. Annie said her prayers, read her Bible, and tried 
not to forget God. Ah ! could she only have known that 
God never forgot her, whether she forgot him or not, giving 
her sleep in her dreary garret, gladness even in Murdoch 
Malison's school-room, and the light of life every-where ! 
He was now leading on the blessed season of spring, when 
the earth would be almost heaven enough to those who had 
passed through the fierceness of the winter. Even now, 
the winter, old and weary, was halting away before the sweet 
approaches of the spring — a symbol of that eternal spring 
before whose slow footsteps Death itself, " the winter of our 
discontent," shall vanish. Death alone can die everlast- 
ingly. 

I have been diffuse in my account of Annie's first winter 
at school, because what impressed her should impress those 
who read her history. It is her reflex of circumstance, in a 
great measure, which makes that history. In regard to this 
portion of her life, I have little more to say than that by 
degrees the school became less irksome to her ; that she 
grew more interested in her work ; that some of the reading- 
books contained extracts which she could enjoy ; and that 
a taste for reading began to wake in her. If ever she came 
to school with her lesson unprepared, it was because some 
book of travel or history had had attractions too strong for 
her. And all that day she would go about like a guilty 
thing oppressed by a sense of downfall and neglected duty. 

With Alec it was very different. He would often find 
himself in a similar case ; but the neglect would make no 
impression on his conscience ; or if it did, he would strug- 
gle hard to keep down the sense of dissatisfaction which 
strove to rise within him, and enjoy himself in spite of it. 

Annie, again, accepted such as her doom, and went about 
gently unhappy, till neglect was forgotten in performance. 
There is nothing that can wipe out wrong but right. 

And still she haunted George Macwha's workshop, where 
the boat soon began to reveal the full grace of its lovely out- 
lines. Of all the works of man's hands, except those that 
belong to Art, a boat is the loveliest, and in the old sense of 



140 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the word the liveliest. Why is this ? Is it that it is born 
between Wind and Water ? — Wind the father, ever casting 
himself into multitudinous shapes of invisible tides, taking 
beauteous form in the sweep of a " lazy-paced cloud," or 
embodying a transient informing freak in the waterspout 
which he draws into his life from the bosom of his mate ; — 
Water, the mother, visible she, sweeping and swaying, ever 
making and ever unmade, the very essence of her being — 
beauty, yet having no form of her own, and yet again mani- 
festing herself in the ceaseless generation of passing forms ? 
If the boat be the daughter of these, the stable child of visi- 
ble and invisible subtlety, made to live in both, and shape 
its steady course between their varying and conflicting 
forces — if her Ideal was modeled between the flap of airy 
pinions and the long ranging flow of the serpent water, how 
could the lines of her form fail of grace ? 

Nor in this case were the magic influences of verse want- 
ing to mold and model a boat which from prow to stern 
should be lovely and fortunate. As Pandemonium 

" Rose like an exhalation, with the sound 
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet," 

SO the little boat grew to the sound of Annie's voice utter- 
ing not Runic Rhymes, but old Scotch ballads, or such few 
sweet English poems, of the new revelation, as floated 
across her way, and folded their butterfly wings in her 
memory. 

I have already said that reading became a great delight 
to her. Mr. Cowie threw his library, with very little restric- 
tion, open to her ; and books old and new were all new to 
her. She carried every fresh one home with a sense of 
richness and a feeling of upliftedncss which I can ill de- 
scribe. She gloated over the thought of it, as she held it 
tight in her hand, with feelings resembling, and yet how 
unlike, those of Johnny Bruce when he crept into his rab- 
bits' barrel to devour the pennyworth oi plunky (a prepara- 
tion of treacle and flour) which his brother would else have 
compelled him to share. Now that the days were longer, 
she had plenty of time to read ; for although her so-called 
guardians made cutting remarks upon her idleness, they 
had not yet compelled her to nursing or needlework. If 
she had shown the least inclination to either, her liberty 
woald have been gone from that moment ; but, with the 
fear of James Dow before their eyes, they let her alone. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 141 

As to her doing any thing in the shop, she was far too much 
an alien to be allowed to minister in the lowest office of 
that sacred temple of Mammon. So that she read every- 
thing she could lay her hands upon ; and as often as she 
found any thing peculiarly interesting, she would take the 
book to the boat, where the boys were always ready to 
listen to whatever she brought them. And this habit made 
her more discerning and choice. 

Before I leave the school, however, I must give one more 
scene out of its history. 

One mid-day in spring, just as the last of a hail-shower 
was passing away, and a sickly sunbeam was struggling out, 
the schoolroom-door opened, and in came Andrew Truffey, 
with a smile on his worn face, which shone in touching 
harmony with the watery gleam of the sun between the two 
hail-storms — for another was close at hand. He swung 
himself on the new pivot of humanity, namely his crutch, 
which everyone who saw him believed at once he was never 
more to go without, till he sank wearied on the road to the 
grave, and had to be carried the rest of the way. He 
looked very long and deathly, for he had grown much while 
lying in bed. 

The master rose hurriedly from his desk, and advanced 
to meet him. A deep stillness fell upon the scholars. 
They dropped all their work, and gazed at the meeting. 
The master held out his hand. With awkwardness and dif- 
ficulty Andrew presented the hand which had been holding 
the crutch ; and, not yet thoroughly used to the manage- 
ment of it, staggered in consequence and would have fallen. 
But the master caught him in his arms and carried him to 
his old seat beside his brother. 

" Thank ye sir," said the boy with another gleamy smile, 
through which his thin features and pale, prominent eyes 
told yet more plainly of sad suffering — all the master's 
fault, as the master knew. 

" Leuk at the dominie," said Curly to Alec. " He's 
greitin'." 

For Mr. Malison had returned to his seat and had laid 
his head down on the desk, evidently to hide his emotion. 

" Hand yer tongue. Curly. Dinna leuk at him," returned 
Alec. " He's sorry for poor Truffey." 

Every one behaved to the master that day with marked 
respect. And from that day forward Truffey was in 
universal favor. 



142 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Let me once more assert that Mr. Malison was not a bad 
man. The misfortune was that his notion of right fell in 
with his natural fierceness; and that, in aggravation of the too 
common feeling with which he had commenced his relations 
with his pupils, namely, that they were not only the natural 
enemies of the master, but therefore of all law, theology 
had come in and taught him that they were in their own 
nature bad — with the badness for which the only set-off he 
knew or could introduce was blows. Independently of any 
remedial quality that might be in them, these blows were 
an embodiment of justice ; for " every sin," as the catechism 
teaches, " deserveth God's wrath and curse both in this life 
and that which is to come." The master therefore was 
only a co-worker with God in every pandy he inflicted on 
his pupils. 

I do not mean that he reasoned thus, but that such-like 
were the principles he had to act upon. And I must add, 
with all his brutality, he was never guilty of such cruelty as 
one reads of occasionally as perpetrated by English school- 
masters of the present day. Nor were the boys ever guilty 
of such cruelty to their fellows as is not only permitted but 
excused in the public schools of England. The tawse, like- 
wise, is a far less cruel instrument of torture than the cane, 
which was then unknown in that region. 

And now the moderation which at once followed upon 
the accident was confirmed. Punishment became less fre- 
quent still, and where it was yet inflicted for certain kinds 
and degress of offense, its administration was considerably 
less severe than formerly ; till at length the boys said that 
the master never put on black stockings now except when 
he was " oot o' white anes." Nor did the discipline of the 
school suffer in consequence. If one wants to make a 
hard-mouthed horse more responsive to the rein, he must 
relax the pressure and friction of the bit, and make the 
horse feel that he has to hold up his own head. If the rider 
supports himself by the reins, the horse will pull. 

But the marvel was to see how Andrew Truffey haunted 
and dogged the master. He was, as it were, a conscious 
shadow to him. There was no hour of a holiday in which 
Truffey could not tell where the master was. If one caught 
sight of Andrew, hirpling down a passage, or leaning 
against a corner, he might be sure the master would pass 
within a few minutes. And the haunting of little Truffey 
worked so on his conscience, that, if the better nature of 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 143 

him had not asserted itself in love to the child, he would 
have been compelled to leave the place. For think of hav- 
ing a visible sin of your own, in the shape of a lame- 
legged boy, peeping at you round every corner ! 

But he did learn to love the boy ; and therein appeared 
the divine vengeance — ah! how different from human ven- 
geance! — that the outbreak of unrighteous wrath reacted on 
the wrong-doer in shame, repentance, and love. 



CHAPTER XXXI. 



At length the boat was calked, tarred, and painted. 

One evening as Annie entered the workshop, she heard 
Curly cry, 

" Here she is, Alec ! " 

And Alec answer, 

" Let her come. I'm just done." 

Alec stood at the stern of the boat, with a pot in one 
hand, and a paint-brush in the other ; and, when Annie 
came near, she discovered to her surprise, and not a little 
to her delight, that he was finishing off the last e of " the 

BONNIE ANNIE." 

" There," said he, " that's her name. Hoo de ye like it, 
Annie ?" 

Annie was too much pleased to reply. She looked at it 
for a while with a flush on her face : and then turning away, 
sought her usual seat on the heap of spales. 

How much that one winter, with its dragons and heroes, 
it boat-building and its rhymes, its discomforts at home and 
its consolations abroad, its threats of future loss and com- 
forts of present hope, had done to make the wild country 
child into a thoughtful little woman. 

Now who should come into the shop at the moment but 
Thomas Crann ! — the very man of all men not to be desired 
on the occasion ; for the boys had contemplated a certain 
ceremony of christening, which they dared not carry out in 
the presence of the stone-mason ; without which, however, 
George Macwha was very doubtful whether the little craft 
would prove a lucky one. — By common understanding they 
made no allusion to the matter, thus postponing it for the 
present. 



144 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Ay ! ay ! Alec," said Thomas ; ** sae yer boat's bigget at 
last ! " 

He stood contemplating it for a moment, not without 
some hardly perceptible signs of admiration, and then said : 

" Gin ye had her oot upon a muckle water, do ye think ye 
wad jump oot ower the side o' her, gin the Saviour tauldye, 
Alec Forbes ? " 

"Ay wad I, gin I war richt sure he wantit me." 

" Ye wad stan' an' parley wi' him, nae doot ? " 

" I bude {behooved) to be richt sure it was his ain sel', ye 
ken, an' that he did call me." 

" Ow ay, laddie ! That's a' richt. Weel, I houp ye wad. 
I aye had guid houps o' ye. Alec, my man. But there may 
be sic' a thing as loupin' into the sea o' life oot o' the ark 
o' salvation ; an' gin ye loup in whan he doesna call ye, or 
gin ye getna a grip o' his han', whan he does, ye're sure to 
droon, as sure's ane o' the swine that ran heedlong in 
and perished i' the water." 

Alec had only a dim sense of his meaning, but he had 
faith that it was good, and so listened in respectful silence. 
Surely enough of sacred as well as lovely sound had been 
uttered over the boat to make her faithful and fortunate ! 

The hour arrived at length when The Bonnie Annie was 
to be launched. It was one of a bright Saturday afternoon, 
in the month of May, full of a kind of tearful light, which 
seemed to say : " Here I am, but I go to-morrow ! " Yet 
though there might be plenty of cold weather to come, 
though the hail might fall in cart-loads, and the snow might 
lie thick for a day or two, there would be no more frozen 
waters, and the boughs would be bare and desolate no more. 
A few late primroses were peeping from the hollows damp 
with moss and shadow along the banks, and the trees by the 
stream were in small young leaf. There was a light wind 
full of memories of past summers and promises for the new 
one at hand, one of those gentle winds that blow the eyes 
of the flowers open, that the earth may look at the heaven. 
In the midst of this baby-waking of the world, the boat 
must glide into her new life. 

Alec got one of the men on the farm to yoke a horse to 
bring the boat to the river. With the help of George she 
was soon placed in the cart, and Alec and Curly got in 
beside her. The little creature looked very much like a 
dead fish, as she lay jolting in the hot sun, with a motion 
irksome to her delicate sides, her prow sticking awkwardly 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I45 

over the horse's back, and her stern projecting as far beyond 
the cart behind. Thus often is the human boat borne pain- 
fully to the stream on which thereafter it shall glide con- 
tentedly through and out of the world. 

When they had got about half-way, Alec said to Curly : 

" I wonner what's come o' Annie, Curly ? It wad be a 
shame to lainch the boat wantin" her." 

" 'Deed it wad. I s' jist rin and luik after her, an' ye can 
luik efter the boat." 

So saying. Curly was out of the cart with a bound. Away 
he ran over a field of potatoes, straight as the crow flies, 
while the cart went slowly on toward the Glamour. 

" Whaur's Annie Anderson ? " he cried, as he burst into 
Robert Bruce's shop. 

" What's your business ? " asked the Bruce — a question 
which evidently looked for no answer. 

" Alec wants her." 

" Weel, he will want her," retorted Robert, shutting his 
jaws with a snap, and grinning a smileless grin from ear to 
ear, like the steel clasp of a purse. By such petty behavior 
he had long ago put himself on an equality with the young 
rascals generally, and he was no match for them on their 
own level. 

Curly left the shop at once, and went round by the close 
into the garden, where he found Annie loitering up and 
down with the baby in her arms, and looking very weary. 
This was in fact the first time she had had tocarry the baby, 
and it fatigued her dreadfully. Till now Mrs. Bruce had 
had the assistance of a ragged child, whose father owed 
them money for groceries : he could not pay it, and they had 
taken his daughter instead. Long ago, however, she had 
slaved it out, and had at length gone back to school. The sun 
was hot, the baby was heavy, and Annie felt all arms and 
back — they were aching so with the unaccustomed drudgery. 
She was all but crying when Curly darted to the gate, his 
face glowing with his run, and his eyes sparkling with 
excitement. 

" Come, Annie," cried he ; " we're gaein' to lainch the 
boat." 

" I canna. Curly ; I hae the bairn to min'." 

" Tak' the bairn in til 'ts mither." 

" I daurna." 

" Lay't doon o' the table, an' rin.' 

" Na, na. Curly ; I cudna do that. Puir little crater ! " 



146 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Is the beastie heavy ? " asked Curly, with deceitful 
interest. 

" Dreadfu'." 

" Lat's try." 

" Ye'll lat her fa'." 

*' 'Deed no. I'm no sae fusionless {pithless). Gie's a 
haud o' her." 

Annie yielded her charge ; but no sooner had Curly pos- 
session of the baby, than he bounded away with her out of 
the garden into the back yard adjoining the house. Now 
in this yard, just opposite the kitchen-window, there was a 
huge sugar-cask, which, having been converted into a reser- 
voir, stood under a spout, and was at this moment half full 
of rain-water. Curly, having first satisfied himself that 
Mrs. Bruce was at work in the kitchen, and therefore sure 
to see him, mounted on a big stone that lay beside the bar- 
rel, and pretended to lower the baby into the water, as if 
trying how much she would endure with equanimity. In a 
moment he received such a box on the ear that, had he not 
been prepared for it, he would in reality have dropped the 
child into the barrel. The same moment the baby was in 
its mother's arms, and Curly sitting at the foot of the bar- 
rel, nursing his head, and pretending to suppress a violent 
attack of weeping. The angry mother sped into the house 
with her rescued child. 

No sooner had she disappeared than Curly was on his 
feet scudding back to Annie, who had been staring over the 
garden-gate in utter bewilderment at his behavior. She 
could no longer resist his entreaties : off she ran with him 
to the banks of the Glamour, where they soon came upon 
Alec and the man in the act of putting the boat on the slip, 
which, in the present instance, was a groove hollowed out 
of a low part of the bank, so that she might glide in more 
gradually. 

" Hurrah ! There's Annie ! " cried Alec. — " Come awa', 
Annie. Here's a glass o' whisky I got frae my mither to 
kirsten the boat. Fling't at the name o' her." 

Annie did as she was desired, to the perfect satisfaction 
of all present, particularly of the long, spare, sinewy farm- 
servant, who had contrived, when Alec's back was turned, 
to swallow the whisky and substitute Glamour water, which 
no doubt did equally well for the purposes of the ceremony. 
Then with a gentle push from all, the Bonnie Annie slid into 
the Glamour, where she lay afloat in contented grace, as 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, I47 

unlike herself in the cart as a swan waddling wearily to the 
water is unlike the true swan-self when her legs have no 
longer to support her weight, but to oar her along through 
the friendly upholding element. 

" Isna she bonnie ? " cried Annie in delight. 

And indeed she was bonnie, in her green and white paint, 
lying like a great water-beetle ready to scamper over the 
smooth surface. Alec sprang on board, nearly upsetting 
the tiny craft. Then he held it by a bush on the bank while 
Curly handed in Annie, who sat down in the stern. Curly 
then got in himself, and Alec and he seized each an oar. 

But what with their inexperience and the nature of the 
channel, they found it hard to get along. The river was 
full of great stones, making narrow passages, so that, in 
some parts, it was not possible to row. They knew nothing 
about the management of a boat, and were no more at ease 
than if they had been afloat in a tub. Alec being stronger 
in the arms than Curly, they went round and round for some 
time, as if in a whirlpool, with a timeless and grotesque 
spluttering and sprawling. At last they gave it up in 
weariness, and allowed the Bonnie Annie to float along the 
stream, taking care only to keep her off the rocks. Past 
them went the banks — here steep and stony, but green with 
moss where little trickling streams found their way into the 
channel ; there spreading into low alluvial shores, covered 
with lovely grass, starred with daisies and buttercups, from 
which here and there rose a willow, whose low boughs swept 
the water. A little while ago, they had skated down its 
frozen surface, and had seen a snowy land shooting past 
them ; now with an unfelt gliding they floated down, and 
the green meadows dreamed away as if they would dream 
past them forever. — Suddenly, as they rounded the corner 
of a rock, a great roar of falling water burst on their ears, 
jind they started in dismay. 

** The sluice is up!" cried Alec. *' Tak' to yer oar, 
Curly." 

Along this part of the bank, some twenty feet above them, 
):d\\ 1 mill-race, which a few yards lower down communi- 
cated by means of a sluice with the river. This sluice was 
now open, for, from the late rains, there was too much 
water ; and the surplus rushed from the race into the 
Glamour in a foaming cataract. Annie seeing that the 
boys wtre uneasy, got very frightened, and, closing her 
eyes, sat motionless. Louder and louder grew the tumult 



148 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

of the waters, till their sound seemed to fall in a solid thun- 
der on her brain. The boys tried hard to row against the 
stream, but without avail. Slowly and surely it carried them 
down into the very heart of the boiling fall ; for on this side 
alone was the channel deep enough for the boat, and the 
banks were too steep and bare to afford any hold. At last 
the boat drifting stern foremost, a torrent of water struck 
Annie, and tumbled into the boat as if it would beat out the 
bottom of it. Annie was tossed about in fierce waters, and 
ceased to know any thing. When she came to herself she 
was in an unknown bed, with the face of Mrs. Forbes bend- 
ing anxiously over her. She would have risen, but Mrs. 
Forbes told her to lie still, which indeed Annie found much 
more pleasant. 

As soon as they got under the fall the boat had filled and 
foundered. Alec and Curly could swim like otters, and 
were out of the pool at once. As they went down, Alec had 
made a plunge to lay hold of Annie, but had missed her. 
The moment he got his breath, he swam again into the 
boiling pool, dived, and got hold of her ; but he was so 
stupefied by the force of the water falling upon him and 
beating him down, that he could not get out of the raging 
depth — for here the water was many feet deep — and as he 
would not leave his hold of Annie, was in danger of being 
drowned. Meantime Curly had scrambled on shore and 
climbed up to the mill-race, where he shut down the sluice 
hard. In a moment the tumult had ceased, and Alec and 
Annie were in still water. In a moment more he had her 
on the bank, apparently lifeless, whence he carried her home 
to his mother in terror. She immediately resorted to one 
or two of the usual restoratives, and was presently successful. 

As soon as she had opened her eyes, Alec and Curly hur- 
ried off to get out their boat. They met the miller in an 
awful rage ; for the sudden onset of twice the quantity of 
water on his overshot wheel, had set his machinery off as if 
it had been bewitched, and one old stone, which had lost its 
iron girdle, had flown in pieces, to the frightful danger of 
the miller and his men. 

" Ye ill-designed villains ! " cried he at a venture, "what 
gart ye close the sluice ? I s' learn ye to min' what ye're 
aboot. Deil tak' ye for rascals ! " 

And he seized one in each brawny hand. 

" Annie Anderson was droonin' aneath the waste-water," 
answered Curly promptly. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 149 

" The Lord preserve 's ! " said the miller, relaxing his 
hold. " Hoo was that ? Did she fa' in ? " 

The boys told him the whole story. In a few minutes 
more the back-fall was again turned off, and the miller was 
helping them to get their boat out. The Bonnie Annie was 
found uninjured. Only the oars and stretchers had floated 
down the stream, and were never heard of again. 

Alec had a terrible scolding from his mother for getting 
Annie into such mischief. Indeed Mrs. Forbes did not like 
the girl's being so much with her son ; but she comforted 
herself with the probability that by and by Alec would go to 
college, and forget her. Meantime, she was very kind to 
Annie, and took her home herself, in order to excuse her 
absence, the blame of which she laid entirely on Alec, not 
knowing that thereby she greatly aggravated any offense of 
which Annie might have been guilty. Mrs. Bruce solemnly 
declared her conviction that a judgment had fallen upon her 
for Willie Macwha's treatment of her baby. 

" Gin I hadna jist gotten a glimp o' him in time, he wad 
hae drooned the bonny infant afore my verra een. It's weel 
waured on them ! " 

It did not occur to her that a wet skin was so very moder- 
ate a punishment for child-murder, that possibly there had 
been no connection between them. 

This first voyage of the Bonnie Annie may seem a bad 
beginning ; but I am not sure that most good ends have not 
had such a bad beginning. Perhaps the world itself may be 
received as a case in point. Alec and Curly went about for 
a few days with a rather subdued expression. But as soon 
as the boat was refitted, they got George Macwha to go 
with them for cockswain ; and under his instructions, they 
made rapid progress in rowing and sculling. Then Annie 
was again their companion, and, the boat being by this time 
fitted with a rudder, had several lessons in steering, in which 
she soon became proficient. Many a moonlight row they 
had on the Glamour ; and many a night after Curly and 
Annie had gone home would Alec again unmoor the boat, 
and drop down the water alone, letting the banks go dream- 
ing past him — not always sure that he was not dreaming 
himself and would not suddenly awake and find himself in 
his bed, and not afloat between heaven and earth, with the 
moon above and the moon below him. I think it was in 
these seasons that he began first to become aware of a cer- 
tain stillness pervading the universe like a law ; a stillness 



IJO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ever being broken by the cries of eager men, yet ever clos- 
ing and returning with gentleness not to be repelled, seeking 
to infold and penetrate with its own healing the minds of 
the noisy children of the earth. But he paid little heed to 
the discovery then, for he was made for activity, and in 
activity he found his repose. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 



My story must have shown already that, although several 
years younger than Alec, Annie had much more character 
and personality than he. Alec had not yet begun to look 
realities in the face. The very nobility and fearlessness of 
his nature had preserved him from many such actions as 
give occasion for looking within and asking one's self whereto 
things are tending. Full of life and restless impulses to 
activity, all that could properly be required of him as yet 
was that the action into which he rushed should be innocent, 
and if conventionally mischievous, yet actually harmless. 
Annie, comfortless at home, gazing all about her to see if 
there was a rest anywhere for her, had been driven by the 
outward desolation away from the window of the world to 
that other window that opens on the regions of silent being 
where God is, and into which when his creatures enter, or 
even look, the fountain of their life springs aloft with ten- 
fold vigor and beauty. Alec, whose home was happy, knew 
nothing of that sense of discomfort which is sometimes the 
herald of a greater need. But he was soon to take a new 
start in his intellectual relations ; nor in those alone, seeing 
the change was the result of a dim sense of duty. The fact 
of his not being a scholar to the mind of Murdoch Malison, 
arose from no deficiency of intellectual power, but only of 
intellectual capacity — for the indefinite enlargement of which 
a fitting excitement from without is alone requisite. 

The season went on, and the world, like a great flower 
afloat in space, kept opening its thousandfold blossom. Hail 
and sleet were things lost in the distance of the year — storm- 
ing away in some far-off region of the north, unknown to 
the summer generation. The butterflies, with wings looking 
as if all the flower-painters of fairyland had wiped their 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 151 

brushes upon them in freakful yet artistic sport, came forth 
in the freedom of their wills and the faithful ignorance of 
their minds. The birds, the poets of the animal creation — 
what though they never get beyond the lyrical ! — awoke to 
utter their own joy, and awake like joy in others of God's 
children. The birds grew silent, because their history laid 
hold upon them, compelling them to turn their words into 
deeds, and keep eggs warm, and hunt for worms. The 
butterflies died of old age and delight. The green Ufe of 
the earth rushed up in corn to be ready for the time of 
need. The corn grew ripe, and therefore weary, hung its 
head, died, and was laid aside for a life beyond its own. The 
keen sharp old mornings and nights of autumn came back 
as they had come so many thousand times before, and made 
human limbs strong and human hearts sad and longing. 
Winter would soon be near enough to stretch out a long 
forefinger once more, and touch with the first frosty shiver 
some little child that loved summer, and shrunk from the cold. 

One evening in early autumn, when the sun, almost on 
the edge of the horizon, was shining right in at the end of 
one of the principal streets, filling its whole width with its 
glory of molten roses, all the shopkeepers were standing in 
their doors. Little groups of country people, bearing a 
curious relation to their own legs, were going in various 
directions across the square. Loud laughter, very much 
like animal noises, now and then invaded the ear ; but the 
sound only rippled the wide lake of the silence. The air 
was perfumed with the scent of peat fires and the burning 
of weeds and potato-tops. There was no fountain to com- 
plete the harmony, but the intermittent gushes from the 
spout of the great pump in the center of the square were no 
bad substitute. At all events, they supplied the sound of 
water, without which Nature's orchestra is not full. 

Wattie Sim, the watchmaker, long and lank, with gray, 
bushy eyebrows meeting over his nose, wandered, with the 
gait of a heedless pair of compasses, across from his own 
shop to Redford the bookseller's, at whose door a small 
group was already gathered. 

" Well, Wattie," said Captain Clashmach, " how goes the 
world with you ? " 

" Muckle the same's wi' yersel', Captain, and the doctor 
there," answered Wattie with a grin. " Whan the time's 
guid for ither fowk, it's but sae sae for you and me. I 
haena had a watch come in for a haill ook [wee^)." 



152 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

*' Hog de ye accoont for that, Mr. Sim ? " asked a shoe- 
maker who stood near without laelonging to the group. 

*' It's the ile, man, the ile. Half the mischeef o' watches 
is the ile." 

" But I don't see," said the doctor, " how that can be, 
Sim." 

" Weel, ye see, sir," answered Wattie — and the words 
seemed somehow to have come tumbling silently down over 
the ridge of his nose, before he caught them in his mouth 
and articulated them — " ye see, sir, watches is delicat' things. 
They're not to be traitet like fowk's insides wi' ony thing 'at 
comes first. Gin I cud jist get the middle half-pint oot o' 
the hert o' a hogsheid o' sperm ile, I wad I sud keep a' yer 
watches gaein' like the verra universe. But it wad be an ill 
thing for me, ye ken. Sae maybe a' thing's for the best 
efter a'. — Noo, ye see, i' this het weather, the ile keeps fine 
an' saft, and disna clog the warks. — But losh preserve's a' ! 
What's that ? " 

Staring up the street toward the sunset, which colored 
all their faces a red bronze, stood a group of townsfolk, 
momently increasing, from which, before Wattle's party 
could reach it, burst a general explosion of laughter. It was 
some moments, however, before they understood what was 
the matter, for the great mild sun shone full in their eyes. 
At length they saw, as if issuing from the huge heavy orb, 
a long dark line, like a sea-serpent of a hundred joints, 
coming down the street towards them, and soon discovered 
that it was a slow procession of animals. First came 
Mistress Stephen, Stumpin' Steenie the policeman's cow, 
with her tail at full stretch behind her. To the end of her 
tail was tied the nose of Jeames Joss the cadger's horse — 
a gaunt sepulchral animal, which age and ill-treatment had 
taught to move as if knees and hocks were useless refine- 
ments in locomotion. He had just enough of a tail left to 
tie the nose of another cow to ; and so, by the accretion 
of living joints, the strange monster lengthened out into the 
dim fiery distance. 

When Mrs. Stephen reached the square, she turned to 
lead her train diagonally across it, for in that direction lay 
her home. Moved by the same desire, the cadger's horse 
wanted to go in exactly the opposite direction. The cow 
pulled the one way, and the horse pulled the other ; but the 
cow, having her head free, had this advantage over the 
horse, which was fast at both ends. So he gave in, and fol- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 153 

lowed his less noble leader. Cow after horse, and horse 
after cow, with a majority of cows, followed, to the number 
of twenty or so ; after which the joints began to diminish in 
size. Two calves were at the tail of the last cow, a little 
Highland one, with a sheep between them. Then came a 
goat belonging to Charles Chapman the wool-carder, the 
only goat in the place, which as often as the strain on his 
own tail slackened, made a butt at that of the calf in front 
of him. Next came a diminishing string of disreputable 
dogs, to the tail of the last of which was fastened the only 
cat the inventors of this novel pastime had been able to 
catch. At her tail followed — alas! — Andrew Truffey's white 
rabbit, whose pink eyes, now fixed and glazed, would no 
more delight the imagination of the poor cripple; and whose 
long, furry hind legs would never more bang the ground in 
sovereign contempt, as he dared pursuit ; for the dull little 
beast, having, with the stiffneckedness of fear, persisted in 
pulling against the string that tied him to the tail of Widow 
Wattles's great tom-cat, was now trailed ignominiously upon 
his side, with soiled fur and outstretched neck — the last joint, 
and only dead one, of this bodiless tail. 

Before Mistress Stephen had reached her home, and just 
as the last link of the chain had appeared on the square, 
the mirth was raised to a yet higher pitch by the sudden 
rush of several women to the rescue, who had already heard 
the news of the ignominious abduction of their honored kye, 
and their shameful exposure to public ridicule. Each made 
for her own four-footed property. 

*' Quid preserve's, Hawkie ! are ye come to this?" cried 
Lucky Lapp, as she limped, still and ever lame with rheu- 
matism, toward the third member of the procession. " Gin 
I had the loon that did it," she went on, fumbling, with a 
haste that defeated itself, at the knot that bound Hawkie's 
nose to the tail of the cadger's horse — " gin I had the loon 
'at did it, I wad ding the sowl oot o* his wame, the villain 1 " 
" Losh ! it's my ain cat, as weel's my ain coo," screamed 
Lucky Wattles in twofold indignation. " Gin I cud but 
redd {comb) the scoonrel's heid wi' your cleuks, Baudrons! " 
she added, as she fondled the cat passionately, " he wadna 
be in sic a doom's hurry to han'le ye again, I s' wad {wager)." 
By this time Stumpin' Steenie, having undone his cow's 
tail, was leading her home amid shouts of laughter. 

" Pit her i' the lock-up, Steenie. She's been takin' up wi' 
ill loons," screeched an urchin. 



154 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Haud yer ill tongue, or I s' tak' you up, ye rascal," 
bawled Steenie. 

" Ye'll hae to saddle Mistress Stephen afore ye can catch 
me, Stumpin' Steenie ! " 

Steenie, inflamed with a sudden wrath, forsook the cow, 
and made an elephantine rush at the offender, who vanished 
in the crowd, and thus betrayed the constable to another 
shout of laughter. 

While the laugh was yet ringing, the burly figure of the 
stonemason appeared, making his way by the momentum of 
great bulk and slow motion to the front of the crowd. With- 
out a word to any one, he drew a knife from his pocket, 
and proceeded to cut every cord that bound the helpless 
animals, the people staring silent all the while. 

It was a sight to see how the dogs scampered off in the 
delight of their recovered freedom. But the rabbit lay 
where the cat had left him. Thomas took it with some sign 
of tenderness, and holding it up in his huge hand, put the 
question to the crowd in general. 

" Wha's aucht this ? " 

" It's cripple Truffey's ! " piped a shrill little voice. 

" Tell him 'at I'll account for't," rejoined Thomas, and 
putting the animal in his pocket, departed. 

He took the nearest way to George Macwha's workshop, 
where he found Alec and Curly, as he had expected, busy 
or appearing to be busy about something belonging to their 
boat. They looked considerably hotter, however, than 
could be accounted for by their work. This confirmed 
Thomas's suspicions. 

" A fine ploy yon for a young gentleman. Alec ! " said he. 

" What ploy, Thomas ? " asked Alec, with attempted 
innocence. 

" Ye ken weel eneuch what ploy I mean, man." 

" Weel, supposin' I do — there's nae that muckle hairm 
dune, to mak' a wark aboot, surely, Thomas." 

" Ca' ye that no hairm ? " rejoined Thomas, pulling the 
dead rabbit out of his pocket, and holding it up by the ears. 
" Ca' ye that no hairm ? " he repeated. 

Alec stared in dismay. Thomas well knew his regard for 
animals, and had calculated upon it. 

" Luik at the puir thing wi' its bonny reid een closed for- 
ever! It's a mercy to think 'at there's no lemin' and lewin' 
{blazing and flaming) future in store for hit, puir nappy 
\bunny)\ 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 155 

" Hoot, hoot, Thamas, man ! Isna that bein' richteous 
overmuch, as oor minister wad say ? " 

The question came in the husky voice of Peter Whaup, 
the blacksmith, who was now discovered leaning in over the 
half-door of the shop. 

" And wha's your minister, Peter, my man ? " retorted 
Thomas, with some acrimony. 

" Mr. Cooie, as ye weel ken, Thamas." 

" I thoucht as muckle. The doctrine savors o' the man, 
Peter. There's no fear o' him or ony o' his followers bein' 
richteous over-much." 

" Weel, ye ken, that's naething but a rabbit i' yer han'. 
It wad hae been worried some day. Hoo cam' 't by 'ts 
deith ? " 

" I didna mean to kill't. 'Twas a' for fun, ye ken," said 
Alec, addressing Thomas. 

" There's a heap o' fun," answered Thomas with 
solemnity, " that carries deith i' the tail o' 't. Here's the 
puir cripple laddie's rabbit as deid's a herrin', and him at 
hame greetin' his een oot, I daursay." 

Alec caught up his cap and made for the door. 

" I'll gang and see him. Curly, wha has ony rabbits to 
sell ? " 

" Doddles's cleckit aboot a month ago." 

" Whaur does Doddles bide ? " 

" I'll let ye see." 

The boys were hurrying together from the shop, when 
Thomas caught Alec by the arm. 

" Ye canna restore the rabbit. Alec." 

" Hoot ! Thamas, ae rabbit's as guid'sanither," interposed 
the smith, in a tone indicating disapprobation, mingled with 
a desire to mollify. 

" Ay — to them 'at cares for nither. But there's sic a 
thing as a human election, as weel's a divine ane ; an' ane's 
no the same's anither, ance it's a chosen ane." 

" Weel, I pity them 'at the Lord has no pity upo'," sighed 
the smith, with a passing thought of his own fits of drinking. 

" Gang ye and try him. He may hae pity upo' you — wha 
kens ? " said Thomas, as he followed Alec, whom he had 
already released, out of the shop. 

" Ye see. Alec," he resumed in a low voice, when they 
were in the open air — Curly going on before them, " it's 
time 'at ye was growin' a man, and pittin' awa' childish 
things. Yer mither '11 be depen'in' upon ye, or lang, to 



156 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

haud things gaein'; and ye ken gin ye negleck yer chance at 
the school, yer time'U no come ower again. Man, ye sud 
try to do something for conscience-sake. Hae ye learnt yer 
lessons for the morn, noo ? " 

" No, Thomas. But I will. I'm jist gaein' to buy a pair 
o' rabbits to Truffey ; and syne I'll gang hame." 

" There's a guid lad. Ye'll be a comfort till yer mither 
some day yet." 

With these words, Thomas turned and left them. 

There had been a growing, though it was still a vague 
sense, in Alec's mind, that he was not doing well ; and this 
rebuke of Thomas Crann brought it full into the light of 
his own consciousness. From that day he worked better. 
Mr. Malison saw the change, and acknowledged it. This 
reacted on Alec's feeling for the master ; and during the fol- 
lowing winter he made three times the progress he had 
made in any winter preceding. 

For the sea of summer ebbed away, and the rocky chan- 
nels of the winter appeared, with its cold winds, its ghost- 
like mists, and the damps and shiverings that cling about 
the sepulcher in which Nature lies sleeping. The boat was 
carefully laid up, across the rafters of the barn, well 
wrapped in a shroud of tarpaulin. It was buried up in the 
air ; and the Glamour on which it had floated so gayly 
would soon be buried under the ice. Summer alone could 
bring them together again — the one from the dry gloom of 
the barn, the other from the cold seclusion of its wintry 
hebetude. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Forbes was somewhat troubled in her 
mind as to what should be done with Alec ; and she often 
talked with the school-master about him. Herself of higher 
birth, socially considered, than her husband, she had the 
ambition that her son should be educated for some profes- 
sion. Now in Scotland education is more easily got than 
almost any thing else ; and whether there might be room for 
the exercise of the profession afterwards was a matter of 
less moment to Mrs. Forbes, seeing she was not at all will- 
ing that the farm which had been in her husband's family 
for hundreds of years should pass into the hands of 
strangers, and Alec himself had the strongest attachment 
to the ancestral soil ; for to be loved it is not necessary that 
land should be freehold. At length his increased diligence, 
which had not escaped her observation, and was testified to 
by Mr. Malison, confirmed her determination that he should 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. IS7 

at least go to college. He would be no worse a farmer for 
having an A.M. after his name; while the curriculum was 
common to all the professions. So it was resolved that, in 
the following winter he should compete for a bursary. 

The communication that his fate lay in that direction 
roused Alec still more. Now that an ulterior object ren- 
dered them attractive, he turned his attention to the classics 
with genuine earnestness ; and on a cloudy day in the end 
of October, found himself on the box-seat of the Royal Mail, 
with his trunk on the roof behind him, bound for a certain 
city whose advantages are not confined to the possession of 
a university. 



CHAPTER XXXni. 



After driving through long streets, brilliant with shops 
of endless marvel, the coachman pulled up for the last time. 
It was a dull, drizzly evening, with sudden windy gusts, and, 
in itself, dark as pitch. But Alec descended, cold and wet, 
in a brilliant light which flowed from the door of the hotel 
as if it had been the very essence of its structure. A porter 
took charge of his box, hoisted it on his back, and led the 
way to the address he gave him. 

Notwithstanding the drizzle, and the angry rushes of the 
wind round the street-corners, the foot-pavements were filled 
with men and women, moving in different directions, like a 
double row of busy ants. Through queer short-cuts that 
terribly bewildered the way, the porter led him to the house, 
and pushing the door open, went up two flights of stone stairs 
and knocked at a door on the landing. Alec was shown into 
a room where a good fire was blazing away with a continu- 
ous welcome ; and when seated by it drinking his tea, he 
saw the whole world golden through the stained windows of 
his imagination. 

But his satisfaction gradually passed into a vague long- 
ing after something else. Would human nature be more 
perfect were it capable of being satisfied with cakes and 
ale ? Alec felt as if he had got to the borders of fairy-land, 
and something was going to happen. A door would open 
and admit him into the secrets of the world. But the door 



158 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

was SO long in opening, that he took to unpacking his box ; 
when, as he jumped up to thank his mother for some pecu- 
liar remembrance of his likings, the whole affair suddenly 
changed to a rehearsal of death ; and his longings for the 
remainder of the night were towards the past. 

He rose in the morning with the feeling revived, that 
something intense was going on all around. But the door 
into life generally opens behind us, and a hand is put 
forth which draws us in backwards. The sole wisdom for 
man or boy who is haunted with the hovering of unseen 
wings, with the scent of unseen roses, and the subtle entice- 
ments of " melodies unheard," is work. If he follow any 
of those, they will vanish. But if he work, they will come 
unsought, and, while they come, he will believe that there is 
a fairy-land, where poets find their dreams, and prophets 
are laid hold of by their visions. The idle beat their heads 
against its walls, or mistake the entrance, and go down mto 
the dark places of the earth. 

Alec stood at the window, and peered down into the nar- 
row street, through which, as in a channel between rocks 
burrowed into dwellings, ran the ceaseless torrent of traffic. 
He felt at first as if his life at least had opened its gates, 
and he had been transported into the midst of its drama. 
But in a moment the show changed, turning first into a 
meaningless procession ; then into a chaos of conflicting 
atoms ; reforming itself at last into an endlessly unfolding 
coil, no break in the continuity of which would ever reveal 
the hidden mechanism. For to no mere onlooker will Life 
any more than Fairy-land open its secret. A man must 
become an actor before he can be a true spectator. 

Weary of standing at the window, he went and wandered 
about the streets. To his country-bred eyes they were full 
of marvels — which would soon be as common to those eyes 
as one of the furrowed fields on his father's farm. The 
youth who thinks the world his oyster, and opens it forth- 
with, finds no pearl therein. 

What is this nimbus about the new ? Is the marvel a mock- 
ery ? Is the shine that of demon-gold ? No. It is a 
winged glory that alights beside the youth ; and, having 
gathered his eyes to itself, flits away to a further perch ; 
there alights, there shines, thither entices. With outstretched 
hands the child of earth follows, to fall weeping at the foot 
of the gray disenchanting thing. But beyond, and again 
beyond, shines the lapwing of heaven — not as a faithless 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 159 

generation thinks, to delude like them, but to lead the seeker 
home to the nest of the glory. 

Last of all, Alec was forced to take refuge in his books. 

The competition fell on the next day, and he gained a small 
bursary. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 



As it happened, no one but Alec had come up from Glam- 
erton that year. He did not know one of his fellow-stud- 
ents. There were very few in the first class indeed who had 
had any previous acquaintance with each other. But before 
three days were over like had begun to draw to like, and oppo- 
sites to their natural opposites. These mutual attractions, 
however, were considerably influenced by the social sphere, 
as indicated by style of dress, speech and manners, in which 
each had been accustomed to move. Some of the youths 
were of the lowliest origin — the sons of plowmen and 
small country shopkeepers ; shock-headed lads, with much 
of the looks and manners of year-old bullocks, mostly with 
freckled faces and a certain general irresponsiveness of feat- 
ure, soon to vanish as the mental and nervous motions be- 
came more frequent and rapid, working thestiff clay of their 
faces into a readier obedience to the indwelling plasticity. 
Some, on the other hand, showed themselves at once the 
aristocracy of the class, by their carriage and social qualifi- 
cations or assumptions. These were not generally the best 
scholars ; but they set the fashion in the cut of their coats, 
and especially in the style of their neckerchiefs. Most of 
them were of Highland families ; some of them jolly, hearty 
fellows ; others affected and presumptuous, evidently con- 
sidering it beneath them to associate with the multitude. 

Alec belonged to a middle class. Well-dressed, he yet 
knew that his clothes had a country air, and that beside 
some of the men he cut a poor figure in more than in this 
particular. For a certain superiority of manner distinguished 
them, indicating that they had been accustomed to more of 
the outward refinements of life than he. Now let Alec once 
feel that a man was wiser and better than himself, and he 
was straightway incapable of envying him any additional 
superiority possible — would, in a word, be perfectly willing 



l6o ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

that he should both wear a better coat and be a better 
scholar than himself. But to any one who did not possess 
the higher kind of superiority, he foolishly and enviously 
grudged the lower kinds of pre-eminence. To understand 
this it must be remembered, that as yet he had deduced for 
himself no principles of action or feeling ; he was only a 
boy well-made, with little goodness that he had in any way 
verified for himself. 

On the second day after the commencement lectures, it was 
made known to the first class that the Magistrand {^fourth- 
class) Debating Society would meet that evening. The 
meetings of this society, although under the control of the 
magistrands, were open, upon equal terms in most other re- 
spects, to the members of the inferior classes. They were 
held in the Natural Histor)'^ class-room, at seven o'clock in 
the evening ; and to the first meeting of the session Alec 
went with no little curiosity and expectation. 

It was already dark when he set out from his lodgings in 
the new town for the gateway beneath the tower with that 
crown of stone which is the glory of the ancient borough 
gathered beneath it. Through narrow, crooked streets, with 
many dark courts on each side, he came to the open road 
which connected the two towns. It was a starry night, 
dusky rather than dark, and full of the long sound of the 
distant sea-waves falling on the shore beyond the links. He 
was striding along whistling, and thinking about as nearly 
nothing as might be, when the figure of a man, whose foot- 
steps he had heard coming through the gloom, suddenly 
darkened before him and stopped. It was a little, spare, 
slouching figure, but what the face was like, he could not 
see. 

" Whustlin' ? " said the man interrogatively. 

" Ay ; what for no ? " answered Alec cheerily. 

" Hand yer een aff o' rainbows, or ye'll brak' yer shins 
upo' gravestanes," said the man, and went on, with a shuf- 
fling gait, his eyes flashing on Alec from under projecting 
brows, as he passed. 

Alec concluded him drunk, although drink would not 
altogether account for the strangeness of the address, and 
soon forgot him. The arch echoed to his feet as he entered 
the dark quadrangle, across which a glimmer in the oppo- 
site tower guided him to the stairs leading up to the place 
of meeting. He found the large room lighted by a chande- 
lier, and one of the students seated as president in the pro- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. l6l 

fessor's chair, while the benches were occupied by about 
two hundred students, most of the freshmen or bejans in their 
red gowns. 

Various preHminary matters were discussed with an energy 
of utterance, and a fitness of speech, which would have put 
to shame the general elocution of both the pulpit and the bar. 
At length, however, a certain semi (second classman, or more 
popularly sheef) stood up to give his opinion on some subject 
in dispute, and attempting to speak too soon after his dinner, 
for he was one of the more fashionable order, hemmed and 
stammered till the weariness of the assembly burst upon him 
in a perfect torrent of hisses and other animal exclamations. 
Among the loudest in this inarticulate protestation, were some 
of the red-gowned bejans, and the speaker kindled with 
wrath at the presumption of the yellow-beaks {l)ecs jaunes : 
bejans), till, indignation bursting open the barriers of utter- 
ance, he poured forth a torrent of sarcastic contempt on 
the young clod-hoppers, who, having just come from herd- 
ing their fathers' cows, could express their feelings in no 
more suitable language than that of the bovine animals 
which had been their principal and fit associates. As he sat 
down, his eyes rested with withering scorn upon Alec Forbes, 
who instantly started to his feet amidst a confusion of plaud- 
its and hisses, but, finding it absolutely impossible to speak 
so as to be heard, contented himself with uttering a sonorous 
ba-a-a-a, and instant dropped into his seat, all the other 
outcries dissolving in shouts of laughter. In a moment he 
received a candle full in the face ; its companions went 
flying in all directions, and the room was in utter darkness. 
A scramble for the door followed ; and amidst struggling, 
shouting and swearing, the whole company rolled down the 
stairs into the quadrangle, most of them without their caps, 
and some with their new gowns torn from bottom to top. 
The night was hideous with the uproar. In the descent, Alec 
received a blow on the head which half stunned him ; but 
he did not imagine that its severity was other than an acci- 
dent of the crush. He made the best of his way home and 
went to bed. 

After this he was popular ; and after this, as often as 
Patrick Beauchamp and he passed each other in walking up 
and down the arcade, Beauchamp's high curved upper lip 
would curve yet higher, and Alec would feel with annoyance 
that he could not sustain the glance of his gray eyes. 

Beauchamp was no great favorite even in his own set ; 



l62 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

for there is one kind of religion in which the more devoted 
a man is, the fewer proselytes he makes : the worship of 
himself. 



CHAPTER XXXV. 



One morning, about two months from the beginning of 
the session, after the students had been reading for some 
time in the Greek class, the professor was seen, not unex- 
pectedly to part of the assembly, to look up at the ceiling 
with sudden discomposure. There had been a heavy fall of 
snow in the night, and one of the students, whose organ of 
humor had gained at the expense of that of veneration, had, 
before the arrival of the professor, gathered a ball of the 
snow, and thrown it against the ceiling with such forceful 
precision, that it stuck right over the center of the chair. 
This was perhaps the first time that such a trick had been 
dared in the first class, belonging more properly to the 
advanced depravity of the second or third. When the air 
began to get warm, the snow began to drop upon the head 
of the old professor ; and this was the cause of his troubled 
glance at the ceiling. But the moment he looked up, Alec, 
seeing what was the matter, and feeling all his natural 
loyalty roused, sprang from his seat, and rushing out of his 
class-room, returned with a long broom which the sacrist 
had been using to clear foot-paths across the quadrangle. 
The professor left his chair, and Alec springing on the desk, 
swept the snow from the ceiling. He then wiped the seat 
with his handkerchief and returned to his place. The grati- 
tude of the old man shone in his eyes. True, he would 
only have had to send for the sacrist to rescue him ; but 
here was an atonement for the insult, offered by one of the 
students themselves. 

" Thank you, Mr. Forbes," he stammered ; " I am ek — 
ek — ek — exceedingly obliged to you." 

The professorwas acurious, kindly little man — lame, with 
a brown wig, a wrinkled face, and a long mouth, of which 
he only made use of the half on the right side to stammer 
out humorous and often witty sayings — at least so they 
appeared to those who had grace enough to respect his posi- 
tion and his age. As often as reference is made in my 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 163 

hearing to Charles Lamb and his stutter, up comes the face 
of dear old Professor Fraser, and I hear him once more 
stammering out some joke, the very fun of which had its 
source in kindliness. Somehow the stutter never interfered 
with the point of the joke : that always came with a rush. 
He seemed, while hesitating on some unimportant syllable, 
to be arranging what was to follow and strike the blow. 

" Gentlemen," he continued upon this occasion, " the 
Scripture says you're to heap c-c-c-coals of fire on your 
enemy's head. When you are to heap drops of water on 
your friend's w-w-wig, the Scripture doesn't say." 

The same evening Alec received a note from him asking 
him to breakfast with him the following morning, which was 
Saturday, and consequently a holiday. It was usual with 
the professors to invite a dozen or so of the students to 
breakfast on Saturdays, but on this occasion Alec was the 
sole guest. 

As soon as he entered the room, Mr. Fraser hobbled to 
meet him, with outstretched hand of welcome, and a kindly 
grin on his face. 

" Mr. Forbes," he said, " I h-h-hope well of you ; for you 
can respect an old man. I'm very glad to see you. I hope 
you've brought an appetite with you. Sit down. Always 
respect old age, Mr. Forbes. You'll be old yourself some 
day — and you won't like it any more than I do. I've had 
my young days, though, and I mustn't grumble." 

And here he smiled ; but it was a sad smile, and a tear 
gathered in the corner of one of his old eyes. He caught 
up a globular silver tea-pot, and began to fill the tea-cups. 
Apparently the reflection of his own face in the tea-pot was 
too comical to resist, for the old man presently broke into 
what was half a laugh and half a grin, and, without in any 
way accounting for it, went on talking quite merrily for the 
rest of the meal. 

" My mother told me," said Alec at length, " in a letter I 
had from her yesterday, that your brother, sir, had married 
a cousin of hers." 

" What ! what ! Are you a son of Mr, Forbes of How- 
glen ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" You young rascal ! Why didn't your mother send you 
to me ? " 

" She didn't like to trouble you, I suppose, sir," 

** People like me, that haven't any relations, must make 



164 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the most of the relations they have. I am in no danger of 
being troubled that way. You've heard of my poor brother's 
death ? " 

" No, sir." 

*' He died last year. He was a clergyman, you know. 
When you come up next session, I hope to show you his 
daughter — your cousin, you know. She is coming to live 
with me. People that don't marry don't deserve to have 
children. But I'm going to have one after all. She's at 
school now. What do you think of turning to, Mr. Forbes ? " 

" I haven't thought much about it yet, sir." 

" Ah ! I dare say not. If I were you, I would be a doctor. 
If you're honest, you're sure to do some good. I think 
you're just the man for a doctor now — you respect your 
fellow-men. You don't laugh at old age, Mr. Forbes." 

And so the kind, garrulous old man went on, talking about 
every thing except Greek. For that he had no enthusiasm. 
Indeed, he did not know enough to have, by possibility, any 
feeling about it. What he did know, however, he taught 
well, and very conscientiously. 

This was the first time that Alec's thoughts had been 
turned toward a profession. The more he thought about 
it the better he liked the idea of being a doctor ; till at 
length, after one or two talks about it with Mr. Fraser, 
he resolved, notwithstanding that the session was con- 
siderably advanced, to attend the anatomical course for 
the rest of it. The Greek and Latin were tolerably easy to 
him, and it would be so much time gained if he entered the 
first medical class at once. He need not stand the exami- 
nation except he liked, and the fee was not by any means 
large. His mother was more than satisfied with the propo- 
sal, and, although what seemed a trifle to Alec was of some 
consequence to her, she sent him at once the necessary 
supplies. Mr. Fraser smoothed the way for him with the 
professor, and he was soon busy making up his distance by 
a close study of the class-books. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

The first day of his attendance in the dissecting-room 
was a memorable one, and had memorable consequences. 
He had considerable misgivings about the new experience 
he had to meet, and sought, by the concentration of his will, 
to prepare himself to encounter the inevitable with calm- 
ness, and, if possible, with seeming indifference. But he 
was not prepared after all for the disadvantage of entering 
a company already hardened to those peculiarities of the 
position for which a certain induration is as desirable as 
unavoidable. 

When he entered the room, he found the group already 
gathered. He drew timidly toward the table on the other 
side, not daring to glance at something which lay upon it — 
" white with the whiteness of what is dead ; " and, feeling 
as if all the men were looking at him, as indeed most of 
them were, kept staring, or trying to stare, at other things 
in the room. But all at once, from an irresistible impulse, 
he faced round, and looked at the table. 

There lay the body of a woman, with a young sad face, 
beautiful in spite of a terrible scar on the forehead, which 
indicated too plainly with what brutal companions she had 
consorted. Alec's lip quivered, and his throat swelled with 
a painful sensation of choking. He turned away, and bit 
his lip hard to keep down his emotion. 

The best quality he possessed was an entire and profound 
reverence for women. Indignation even was almost quelled 
in the shock he received, when one of the students, for the 
pleasure of sneering at his discomposure, and making a 
boast of his own superiority to such weakness, uttered a 
brutal jest. In vain the upturned face made its white appeal 
to the universe : a laugh billowed the silence about its head. 

But no rudeness could hurt that motionless heart — no 
insult bring a blush on that pale face. The closed eyes, 
the abandoned hands seemed only to pray: 

** Let me into the dark — out of the eyes of those men! " 

Alec gave one sob in the vain effort to master the con- 
flicting emotions of indignation and pity. It reverberated 
in the laugh which burst from the students of the healing 
art. Almost quenched in the laugh he heard one word, 



l66 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

however, in the same voice which had made the jest — a 
voice he knew well enough — that of Patrick Beauchamp. 
His face blazed up ; his eyes flashed ; and he had made one 
step forward, when he was arrested by the still face of the 
dead woman, which, ghostly as the morning moon, returned 
no glow in the red sunlight of his wrath ; and in reverence 
he restrained his anger. In another moment the professor 
arrived. 

During the lecture and accompanying demonstrations, 
Alec was deaf and blind from burning rage ; in the midst of 
which, however, he almost forgot his own wrong in regard- 
ing that done to the dead. He became, in his own eyes, 
the champion of one whom nature and death had united to 
render defenseless. From the verge of a gulf more terri- 
ble than the grave, her cry had reached him, and he would 
rise to avenge her. 

As soon as they came out, he walked up to Beauchamp. 

** You called me a spoony," he said through his set teeth, 

" I did," answered Beauchamp, with an admirable drawl 
of indifference. 

Alec replied with a blow : whereupon Beauchamp knocked 
him down. But he was up in a moment ; and, although his 
antagonist was both older and bigger, the elasticity of his 
perfect health soon began to tell. There was little science 
between them, and what there was lay on Beauchamp's 
side ; yet he defended himself more and more feebly, for his 
wind had soon given way. At length, after receiving a ter- 
rible blow on the mouth, Beauchamp dropped his arms and 
turned his back ; and Alec, after some hesitation, let him go 
without the parting kick which he was tempted to give him, 
and which he had so well deserved. 

The men dispersed without remark, ashamed of them- 
selves, and admiring the bumpkin — most of them were gen- 
tlemen enough for that ; while each of the combatants 
retired unaccompanied to his own lodging — Alec with a 
black eye, which soon passed through yellow black to its 
own natural hue, and Beauchamp with a cut, the scar of 
which deepened the sneer on his upper lip, and was long 
his evil counselor from the confessional of the mirror. 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

The encounter fortunately took place upon a Friday, so 
that the combatants had both Saturday and Sunday, with 
the deodand of a slight fine for being absent from chapel, 
to recover appearances. Alec kept to the house 
both days, and read hard at his medical and anatomical 
books. His landlady took charge of his eye, and ministered 
to it with assiduity and discretion, asking no questions, and 
courting no confidences, only looking at him comically now 
and then out of gray, motherly eyes, that might have been 
trusted with the universe. She knew the ways of students. 
In the course of one of the dressings, she said : 

" Ye'U be thinkin' lang [ennuyc^), Mr. Forbes, at haein' to 
bide i' the hoosc wi' that blackamoor ee o' yours. Hoo 
dinna ye gang up the stair to Mr. Cupples, and hae a lauch 
wi' him ? " 

" I didna ken ye had ony body up the stair. Wha's Mr. 
Cupples ? " 

" Weel, he kens that best himsel'! But he's a gey queer 
ane. He's a terrible scholar though, fowk says — gran' at 
the Greek, and real bonny on the mathewmawtics. Only 
ye maunna be fleyt {frightened^ at him." 

" I'm easy fleyt," said Alec, with a laugh. " But I wad 
like to see him." 

" Gang up, than, and chap at the garret door upo' yer 
left han'." 

" But what reason am I to gie him for disturbin' him ? " 
asked Alec. 

" Ow nane ava. Jist tak' a moufu' o' Greek wi' ye to 
speir the richt meanin' o', gin ye maun hae a rizzon." 

" That will do just first-rate," said Alec; " for here I have 
been puzzling over a sentence for the last half hour with 
nobody but this dim-sighted ghost of a Schrevelius to help 
me out with it. I'll go directly. But I look such a black- 
guard with this game eye ! " 

The landlady laughed. 

" You'll sune forget that whan ye see Mr. Cupples." 

To the dismay of his nurse, Alec pulled the bandage off 
his eye, and amidst the expostulations caught up his book, 
and rushing away, bounded up the garret stairs, which 



l68 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ascended outside the door of the flat. At the top, he found 
himself under the bare roof, with only boards and slates 
between him and the clouds. The landing was lighted by 
a sky-light, across which diligent and undisturbed spiders 
had woven their webs for years. He stood for a moment 
or two, puzzled as to which door he ought to assail, for all 
the doors about looked like closet doors, leading into dingy 
recesses. At last, with the aid of his nose, he made up his 
mind, and knocked. 

" Come in," cried a voice of a peculiar tone. It reminded 
Alec of something he could not at all identify, which was 
not wonderful, seeing it was of itself, heard once before, 
that it reminded him. It was the same voice which, as he 
walked to the debate, the first night, had warned him not to 
]ook at rainbows. 

He opened the door and entered. 

'■'■ What do you want ? " said the voice, its source almost 
invisible in the thick fumes of genuine pigtail, through 
which it sent cross odors of as genuine Glenlivat. 

" I want you to help me with a bit of Homer, if you 
please, Mr. Cupples. — I'm not up to Homer yet." 

" Do ye think I hae naething ither to do than to grin' the 
grandur o' an auld haythen into spunemate for a young 
sinner like you ? " 

" Ye dinna ken what I'm like, Mr. Cupples," returned 
Alec, remembering his landlady's injunction not to be afraid 
of him. 

" Come athort the reek, and lat's luik at ye." 

Alec obeyed, and found the speaker seated by the side of 
a little fire, in an old easy-chair covered with horse-hair ; 
and while undergoing his scrutiny, took his revenge in kind. 
Mr. Cupples was a man who might have been of almost 
any age from five-and-twenty to fifty — at least, Alec's expe- 
rience was insufficient for the task of determining to what 
decade of human years he belonged. He was a little man, 
in a long, black tail-coat much too large, and dirty gray 
trowsers. He had no shirt collar visible, although a loose, 
rusty stock revealed the whole of his brown neck. His 
hair, long, thin, fair, and yet a good deal mingled with 
gray, straggled about over an uncommonly high forehead, 
which had somehow the neglected and ruinous look of an 
old bare tower no ivy had beautified. His ears stood far 
out from his great head. His nose refuses to be described. 
His lips were plentiful and loose ; his chin was not worth 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 169 

mentioning ; his eyes were rather large, beautifully formed, 
bright, and blue. His hand, small, delicately shaped, and 
dirty, grasped, all the time he was examining Alec, a tumbler 
of steaming toddy ; while his feet, in list slippers of differ- 
ent colors, balanced themselves upon the fender. 

" You've been fighting, you young rascal ! " said Mr. Cup- 
pies, in a tone of authority, the moment he had satisfied 
himself about Alec's countenance. " That won't do. It's 
not respectable." 

And he gave the queerest intelligible grin. 

Alec found himself strangely attracted to him, and im- 
pelled — a feeling not unf requent with him — to tell the truth, 
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

" The world itself isn't the most respectable planet in the 
system, Mr. Cupples," said he : " and no honest inhabitant 
of it can be always respectable either." 

Mr. Cupples chuckled and laughed groggily, muttering 
somewhere in his chest — 

" You young dog ! there's stuff in you! " Then compos- 
ing himself a little, he said aloud: "Tell me all about it 
directly." 

Alec obeyed, and, not without emotion, gave Mr. Cup- 
ples the whole history of the affair. 

" Damn you ! " remarked Mr. Cupples, in a husky voice, 
as he held out a trembling hand to Alec, "you're one of the 
right sort. I'll do any thing for you I can, Where's you're 
Homer ? " 

So saying, he rose with care and went towards a cup- 
board in the corner. His pipe had been so far interrupted 
during their conversation, that Alec was now able, by the 
light of the tallow candle, to see the little garret room, with 
its ceiling on one side sloping nearly to the floor, its walls 
begrimed with smoke, and the bare plaster covered with gro- 
tesque pencil-drawings — caricatures of Homeric heroes in 
the guise of school-boys, polemic clergymen of the city in 
the garb of fish-wives militant, and such like. A bed and a 
small chest of drawers stood under the slope of the roof, 
and the rest of the room was occupied by a painted table 
covered with papers, and a chair or two. An old broad- 
sword leaned against a wall in a corner. A half-open cup- 
board revealed bottles, glasses and a dry-looking cheese. 
To the corresponding cupboard, on the other side of the 
fire, which had lost a corner by the descent of the roof, Mr. 
Cupples now dragged his slippers, feeling in his waistcoat 



170 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

pocket as he went for the key. — There was another door 
still, partly sunk in the slope of the ceiling. 

When he opened the cupboard, a dusky glimmer of 
splendid bindings filling the whole recess, shone out upon the 
dingy room. From a shelf he took a volume of Homer, 
bound in vellum, with red edges — a copy of far greater 
value than Alec had knowledge of books to understand — 
and closing the door again, resumed his seat in the easy- 
chair. Having found the passage, he read it through aloud 
in a manner which made Homer for the first time sound like 
poetry in Alec's ears, and almost revealed the hidden sig- 
nificance. Then pouncing at once upon the shadowy word 
which was the key to the whole, he laid open the construc- 
tion and meaning in one sentence of explanation. 

" Thank you ! thank you ! " exclaimed Alec. " I see all 
now as plain as English." 

" Stop, stop, my young bantam ! " said Mr. Cupples. 
" Don't think you're going to break into my privacy and get 
off with the booty so cheaply. Just you construe the whole 
sentence to me." 

Alec did so tolerably well ; for the passage was only an 
easy extract, the class not having reached Homer yet. Mr. 
Cupples put several questions to him, which gave him more 
insight into Greek than a week's work in the class would 
have done, and ended with a small lecture suggested by the 
passage, drinking away at his toddy all the time. The lec- 
ture and the toddy ended together. Turning his head aside, 
where it lay in the horse-hair chair, he said sleepily : 

" Go away — I don't know your name. — Come and see me 
to-morrow night. I'm drunk now." 

Alec rose, made some attempt at thanks, received no 
syllable of reply, and went out, closing the door behind him, 
and leaving Mr. Cupples to his dreams. 

His countenance had not made much approximation to 
respectability before the Monday. He therefore kept it as 
well as he could out of Mr. Fraser's sight, to whom he did 
not wish to give explanations to the prejudice of any of his 
fellow-students. Mr. Fraser, however, saw his black eye 
well enough, but was too discreet to ask questions, and 
appeared quite unaware of the transitory blemish. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Meantime, at Glamerton the winter passed very much 
like former winters to all but three — Mrs. Forbes, Annie 
Anderson, and Willie Macwha. To these the loss of Alec 
was dreary. So they were in a manner compelled to draw 
closer together. At school, Curly assumed the protector- 
ship of Annie which had naturally devolved upon him, 
although there was now comparatively little occasion for its 
exercise ; and Mrs. Forbes, finding herself lonely in her 
parlor during the \ongfore>iig/its, got into the habit of send- 
ing Mary at least three times a week to fetch her. This was 
not agreeable to the Bruce, but the kingly inheritor abode 
his hour ; and Mrs. Forbes had no notion of the amount of 
offense she gave by doing so. 

That parlor at Howglen was to Annie a little heaven hol- 
lowed out of the winter. The warm curtains drawn, and 
the fire blazing defiantly, — the angel with the flaming sword 
to protect their Paradise from the frost, it was indeed a con- 
trast to the sordid shop and the rat-haunted garret. 

After tea they took it in turns to work and to read. Mrs. 
Forbes had never sought to satisfy the religious public as to 
the state of her mind, and so had never been led astray into 
making frantic efforts to rouse her own feelings ; which is, 
in fact, to apply to them the hottest searing iron of all, next 
to that of sin. Hence her emotional touch remained deli- 
cate, and what she could not understand she could feel. The 
good books she liked best were stories of the Scotch Cove- 
nanters and Worthies, whose example, however much of stiff- 
neckedness may have mingled with their devotion, was yet 
the best that Annie could have, inasmuch as they were 
simply martyrs — men who would not say iw when they ought 
to say no. Nor was Mrs. Forbes too religious to enjoy the 
representation given of these Covenanters in Old Mortality. 
Her feelings found nothing repulsive in the book, although 
she never discovered the reason in the fact that Sir Walter's 
feelings were the same as her own, whatever his opinions 
might be, and had given the chief color and tone to the 
representation of his characters. There were more books 
in the house than usual even in that oi^. gentleman farmer ; 
and several of Sir Walter's novels, besides some travels, and 



172 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

a little Scotch history, were read between them that winter. 
In poetry, Annie had to forage for herself. Mrs. Forbes 
could lend her no guiding hand in that direction. 

The bond between them grew stronger every day. Annie 
was to Mrs. Forbes an outlet for her maternity, which could 
never have outlet enough without a girl as well as a boy to 
love ; and Annie, in consequence, was surrounded by num- 
berless holy influences, which, operating in a time when she 
was growing fast, had their full effect upon mind and body 
both. In a condition of rapid change, the mass is more 
yielding and responsive. One result in her was, that a cer- 
tain sober grace, like that of the lovely dull-feathered hen- 
birds, began to manifest itself in her carriage and her ways. 
And this leads me to remark that her outward and visible 
feathers would have been dull enough had not Mrs. Forbes 
come to her aid with dresses of her own, which they remade 
between them ; for it will easily be believed that no avoid- 
able outlay remained unavoided by the Bruces. Indeed, but 
for the feeling that she must be decent on Sundays, they 
would have let her go yet shabbier than she was when Mrs. 
Forbes thus partially adopted her. Now that she was warmly 
and neatly dressed, she began to feel and look more like the 
lady-child she really was. No doubt the contrast was very 
painful when she returned from Mrs. Forbes's warm parlor 
to sleep in her own garret, with the snow on the roof, scanty 
clothing on the bed, and rats in the floor. But there are 
two sides to a contrast ; and it is wonderful also how one 
gets through what one can not get out of. 

A certain change in the Bruce-habits, leading to important 
results for Annie, must now be recorded. 

Robert Bruce was making money, but not so fast as he 
wished. For his returns came only in small sums, although 
the profits were great. His customers were chiefly of the 
poorer classes of the town and the neighborhood, who pre- 
ferred his unpretending shop to the more showy establish- 
ments of some of his rivals. A sort of conthy, pauky, confi- 
dentially flattering way that he had with them, pleased 
them, and contributed greatly to keep them true to his 
counter. And as he knew how to buy as well as how to 
sell, the poor people, if they had not the worth of their 
money, had at least what was good of its sort. But, as I 
have said, although he was making haste to be rich, he was 
not succeeding fast enough. So he bethought him that the 
Missionar Kirk was getting " verra throng." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 1 73 

A month or two before this tirne, the Missionars had made 
choice of a very able man for their pastor — a man of genuine 
and strong reUgious feehng, who did not allow his theology 
to interfere with the teaching given him by God's Spirit 
more than he could help, and who, if he had been capable 
of making a party at all, would have made it with the poor 
against the rich. This man had gathered about him a large 
congregation of the lower classes of Glamerton ; and Bruce 
had learned with some uneasiness that a considerable por- 
tion of his customers was to be found in the Missionar 
Kirk on Sundays, especially in the evenings. For there was 
a grocer amongst the Missionars, who, he feared, might 
draw some of his subjects away from their allegiance, seeing 
he must have a certain religious mfluence of which Robert 
was void, to bring to bear upon them. What therefore 
remained but that he too should join the congregation ? For 
then he would not only retain the old, but have a chance of 
gaining new customers as well. So he took a week to think 
about it, a Sunday to hear Mr. TurnbuU in order that the 
change might not seem too abrupt, and a pew under the 
gallery before the next Sunday arrived ; in which, five min- 
utes before the hour, he and his family were seated, adding 
greatly to the consequence both of the place and of himself 
in the eyes of his Missionar customers. 

This change was a source of much pleasure to Annie. For 
although she found the service more wearisome than good 
Mr. Cowie's, lasting as it did about three quarters of an hour 
longer and the sermon was not invariably of a kind in which 
she could feel much interest, yet, occasionally, when Mr. 
Turnbull was in his better moods, and testified of that which 
he had himself seen and known, the honest heart of the 
maiden recognized the truth, and listened absorbed. The 
young Bruces, for their parts, would gladly have gone to 
sleep, which would perhaps have been the most profitable 
use to which they could put the time ; but they were kept 
upright and in a measure awake, by the constant applica- 
tion, " spikewise," of the paternal elbow, and the judicious 
administration, on the part of the mother, of the unfailing 
peppermint lozenges, to which in the process of ages a cer- 
tain sabbatical character has attached itself. To Annie, how- 
ever, no such ministration extended, for it would have been 
downright waste, seeing she could keep awake without it. 

One bright frosty morning, the sermon happening to have 
no relation to the light around or within them, but only to the 



174 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

covenant made with Abraham — such a legal document consti- 
tuting the only reliable protection against the character, 
inclinations, and duties of the Almighty, whose uncovenanted 
mercies are of a very doubtful nature — Annie, neither able to 
enter into the subject, nor to keep from shivering with the cold, 
tried to amuse herself with gazing at one brilliant sun-streak on 
the wall, which she had discovered to be gradually shortening 
itself, and retreating towards the window by which it had 
entered. Wondering how far it would have moved before 
the sermon was over, and whether it would have shone so 
very bright if God had made no covenant with Abraham, 
she was earnestly watching it pass from spot to spot, and 
from cobweb to cobweb, as if it already fled from the com- 
ing darkness of the long winter night, when she caught a 
glimpse of a very peculiar countenance turned in the same 
direction — that is, not toward the minister, but toward 
this traveling light. She thought the woman was watching 
it as well as she, and wondered whether she too was hoping 
for a plate of hot broth as soon as the sunbeam had gone a 
certain distance — broth being the Sunday fare with the 
Bruces — and, I presume, with most families in Scotland. 
The countenance was very plain, seamed and scarred as if 
the woman had fallen into the fire when a child ; and Annie 
had not looked at her two seconds, before she saw that she 
was perfectly blind. Indeed she thought at first that she 
had no eyes at all ; but as she kept gazing, fascinated with 
the strangeness and ugliness of the face, she discovered 
that the eyelids, though incapable of separating, were in 
constant motion, and that a shrunken eye-ball underneath 
each kept moving and rolling ever, as if searching for some- 
thing it could not find. She saw too that there was a light 
on the face, a light which neither came from the sun in the 
sky, nor the sunbeam on the wall, towards which it was 
unconsciously turned. I think it must have been the 
heavenly bow itself, shining upon all human clouds — a bow 
that has shone for thousands of ages before there ever was 
an Abraham, or a Noah, or any other of our faithless gen- 
eration, which will not trust its God unless he swear that 
he will not destroy them. It was the ugliest face. But over 
it, as over the rugged channel of a sea, flowed the trans- 
parent waves of a heavenly light. 

When the service was over, almost before the words of 
benediction had left the minister's lips, the people, accord- 
ing to Scotch habit, hurried out of the chapel, as if they 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 1 75 

could not possibly endure one word more. But Annie, who 
was always put up to the top of the pew, because there, by 
reason of an intruding pillow, it required a painful twist of 
the neck to see the minister, stood staring at the blind 
woman as she felt her way out of the chapel. There was 
no fear of putting her out by staring at her. When, at 
length, she followed her into the open air, she found her 
standing by the door, turning her sightless face on all sides, 
as if looking for some one and trying hard to open her eyes 
that she might see better. Annie watched her, till, seeing 
her lips move, she knew half by instinct, that she was mur- 
muring, " The bairn's forgotten me ! " Thereupon she 
glided up to her and said gently : 

" If ye'll tell me whaur ye bide, I s' tak ye hame." 

" What do they ca' you, bairn ? " returned the blind 
woman, in a gruff, almost manlike voice, hardly less 
unpleasant to hear than her face was to look at. 

"Annie Anderson," answered Annie. 

" Ow, ay ! I thoucht as muckle. I ken a' aboot ye. 
Gie's a baud o' yer han'. I bide i' that wee hoosie down at 
the brig, atween the dam and the Glamour, ye ken. Ye'll 
hand me aff o' the stanes ?" 

" Ay will I," answered Annie confidently. 

" I could gang my lane, but I'm growing some auld noo, 
and I'm jist raither feared for fa'in'." 

*' What garred ye think it was me — I never spak till ye 
afore ? " asked Annie, as they walked on together. 

" Weel, it's jist half guissin', an' half a kin' o' jeedgment 
— pittin things thegither, ye ken, my bairn. Ye see, I kent 
a' the bairns that come to oor kirk weel eneuch already. I 
ken the word and amaist the fit o' them. And I had heard 
tell 'at Maister Bruce was come to oor kirk. Sae when a 
lassie spak till me 'at I never saw afore, I jist a kin' o' kent 
'at it bude to be yersel'." 

All this was spoken in the same harsh voice, full of jars, 
as if ever driving against corners, and ready to break into a 
hoarse whisper. But the woman held Annie's hand kindly, 
and yielded like a child to her guidance, which was as care- 
ful as that of the angel that led Peter. 

It was a new delight to Annie to have some one to whom 
she, a child, could be a kind of mother, to whom she could 
fulfill a woman's highest calling — that of ministering unto ; 
and it was with something of a sacred pride that she led her 
safe home, through the snowy streets, and down the steep 



176 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

path that led from the level of the bridge, with its three 
high stone arches, to the little meadow where her cottage 
stood. Before they reached it, the blind woman, whose 
name was Tibbie {Isabel) Dyster, had put many questions 
to her, and without asking one indiscreet, had yet, by her 
gift for fitting and fusing things in the retort of her own 
brain, come to a tolerably correct knowledge of her 
character, circumstances and history. 

As soon as they entered the cottage Tibbie was entirely 
at her ease. The first thing she did was to lift the kettle 
from the fire, and feel the fire with her hands in order to 
find out in what condition it was. She would not allow 
Annie to touch it : she could not trust the creature that had 
nothing but eyes to guide her, with such a delicate affair. 
Her very hands looked blind and trying to see, as, with fine 
up-curved tips, they went wandering over the tops of the 
live peats. She re-arranged them, put on some fresh pieces, 
blew a little at them all astray and to no purpose, was 
satisfied, coughed, and sank upon a chair, to put her bonnet 
off. Most women of her station wore only a mutch or close 
cap, but Tibbie wore a bonnet with a brilliantly gay ribbon, 
so fond was she of bright colors, although she had nothing 
but the testimony of others, vague enough ere it succeeded 
in crossing the dark distances of her brain, as to the effect 
of those even with which she adorned her own person. 
Her room was very bare, but as clean as it was possible for 
room to be. Her bed was in the wall which divided it from 
the rest of the house, and this one room was her whole 
habitation. The other half of the cottage was occupied by 
an old cripple, nearly bed-ridden, to whose many necessities 
Tibbie used to minister. The eyes of the one and the legs 
of the other worked in tolerable harmony ; and if they had a 
quarrel now and then, it was no greater than gave a zest to 
their intercourse. These particulars, however, Annie did 
not learn till afterwards. 

She looked all about the room, and seeing no signs of 
any dinner for Tibbie, was reminded thereby that her own 
chance had considerably diminished. 

" I maun awa' hame," she said with a sigh. 

"Ay, lassie; they'll be bidin' their denner for ye." 

*' Na, nae fear o' that," answered Annie, adding with 
another sigh, " I doot there winna be muckle o' the broth 
to the fore or I win hame." 



m 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN'. 177 

" Weel, jist bide, bairn, an' tak' a cup o* tay wi' me. It's 
a' 'at I hae to offer ye. Will ye bide ? " 

" Maybe I wad be i' yer gait," objected Annie feebly. 

" Na, na ; nae fear o' that. Ye'U read a bit to me 
efterhin." 

'■' Ay will 1." 

And Annie staid all the afternoon with Tibbie, and 
went home with the Bruces after evening service. This 
was the beginning of her acquaintance with Tibbie 
Dyster. 

It soon grew into a custom for Annie to take Tibbie 
home from the chapel — a custom to which the Bruces could 
hardly have objected to, had they been so inclined. But 
they were not so inclined, for it saved the broth — that is, 
each of them got a little more in consequence, and Annie's 
absence was therefore a Sabbath blessing. 

Much as she was neglected at home, however, Annie was 
steadily gaining a good reputation in the town. Old men 
said she was a gude bairn, and old women said she was a douce 
lassie; while those who enjoyed finding fault more than giv- 
ing praise, turned their silent approbation of Annie into 
expressions of disapproval of the Bruces — " lattin' her gang 
like a beggar, as gin she was no kith or kin o' theirs, whan 
its weel kent whase heifer Rob Bruce is plooin' wi'." 

But Robert nevertheless grew and prospered all day, and 
dreamed at night that he was the king, digging the pits for 
the English cavalry, and covering them again with the 
treacherous turf. Somehow the dream never went further. 
The field and the kingship would vanish and he only remain 
the same Robert Bruce, the general dealer, plotting still, but 
in his own shop. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 



Responsive to Mr. Cupples's last words uttered from the 
brink of the pit into which his spirit was sinking, and prob- 
ably forgotten straightway. Alec knocked at his door upon 
the Sunday evening, and entered. The strange creature 
was sitting in the same position as before, looking as if he 
had not risen since he spoke those words. But there was 



178 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

an alteration in the place, a certain Sunday look about the 
room, which Alec could not account for. The same carica- 
tures jested from the wall ; the same tumbler of toddy was 
steaming on the table amidst the same litter of books and 
papers covered with the same dust and marked with the 
same circles from the bottoms of wet tumblers and glasses. 
The same cutty-clay, of enviable blackness, reposed between 
the teeth of Mr. Cupples. 

After he had been seated for a few moments, however, 
Alec all at once discovered the source of the reformation- 
look of the place : Mr. Cupples had on a shirt-collar — clean 
and of imposing proportions. To this no doubt was 
attached a shirt, but as there was no further sign of its pres- 
ence, it could not have affected the aspect of things. 
Although, however, this shirt-collar was no doubt the chief 
cause of the change of expression in the room. Alec, in the 
course of the evening, discovered further signs of improve- 
ment in the local morals ; one, that the hearth had been 
cleared of a great heap of ashes, and now looked modest 
and moderate as if belonging to an old maid's cottage, 
instead of an old bachelor's garret ; and another, that, upon 
the untidy table, lay an open book of divinity, a volume of 
Gurnall's Christian Armor namely, which I fear Mr. 
Cupples had chosen more for its wit than its devotion. 
While making these discoveries. Alec chanced to observe — 
he was quick-eyed — that some of the dusty papers on 
the table were scrawled over with the first amorphous 
appearance of metrical composition. These moved his 
curiosity ; for what kind of poetry could the most unpoetic 
looking Mr. Cupples produce from that great head of his 
with the lanky, colorless hair ? — But meantime we must 
return to the commencement of the interview. 

" Ony mair Greek, laddie ?" asked Mr. Cupples. 

" No, thank you, sir," answered Alec. " I only came to 
see you. You told me to come again to-night." 

" Did I ? Well, it may stand. But I protest against 
being made accountable for any thing that fellow Cupples 
may choose to say when I'm not at home." 

Here he emptied his glass of toddy, and filled it again 
from the tumbler. 

" Shall I go away ? " asked Alec, half bewildered. 

" No, no ; sit still. You're a good sort of innocent, I 
think. I won't give you any toddy though. You needn't 
look so greedy at it." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 1 79 

" I don't want any toddy, sir. I never drank a tumbler 
in my life." 

" For God's sake," exclaimed Mr. Cupples, with sudden 
eager energy, leaning forward in his chair, his blue eyes 
flashing on Alec — " for God's sake, never drink a drop. — 
Rainbows. Rainbows." 

These last two words were spoken after a pause, and in a 
tone of sadness. Alec thought he was drunk again, and 
half rose to go. 

" Dinna gang yet," said Mr. Cupples, authoritatively. 
" Ye come at yer ain will : ye maun gang at mine. — Gin I 
cud but get a kick at that fellow Cupples ! But I declare 
I canna help it. Gin I war God, I wad cure him o' drink. 
It's the verra first thing 1 wad do." 

Alec could not help being shocked at the irreverence of 
the words. But the solemnity of Mr. Cupples's face speedily 
dissipated the feeling. Suddenly changing his tone, he 
went on : 

" What's your name ? " 

" Alec Forbes." 

" Alec Forbes. I'll try to remember it. I seldom remem- 
ber any body's name, though. I sometimes forget my 
own. What was the fellow's name you thrashed the other 
day ? " 

"Patrick Beauchamp. I did not mention it before." 

" The deevil it was ! " exclaimed Mr. Cupples, half-start- 
ing from his seat. " Did ye gie him a ric/if thrashin' ? " 

" I think he had the worst of it. He gave in, any way." 

" He comes of a bad lot ! / know all about them. 
They're from Strathspey, where my father came from — at 
least his father was. If the young fellow turns out well, 
it'll be a wonder. I'll tell you all about them." 

Mr. Cupples here launched into a somewhat discursive 
account of Patrick Beauchamp's antecedents, indicating by 
its minuteness that there must have been personal relations 
of some kind between them or their families. Perhaps he 
glanced at something of the sort when he said that old 
Beauchamp was a hard man even for a lawyer. I will con- i 
dense the story from the more diffuse conversational narra- / 
live, interrupted by question and remark on the part of Alec, j 
and give it the shape of formal history. 

Beauchamp's mother was the daughter of a Highland 
chief, whose pedigree went back to an Irish king of date so 
remote that his existence was doubtful to every one not 



l8o ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

personally interested in the extraction. Mrs. Beauchamp 
had all the fierceness without much of the grace belonging 
to the Celtic nature. Her pride of family, even, had not 
prevented her from revenging herself upon her father who 
had offended her, by running away with a handsome W.S., 
who, taken with her good looks, and flattered by the notion 
of overcoming her pride, had found a conjunction of cir- 
cumstances favorable to the conquest. It was not long, 
however, before both repented of the step. That her father 
should disown her was not of much consequence in any 
point of view, but that nobody in Edinburgh would admit 
her claims to distinction — which arose from the fact that 
they were so unpleasantly asserted that no one could endure 
herself — did disgust her considerably ; and her annoyance 
found vent in abuse of her husband for having failed to 
place her in the sphere to which she had a just claim. The 
consequence was that he neglected her ; and she sat at 
home brooding over her wrongs, despising and at length 
hating her husband, and meditating plans of revenge as 
soon as her child should be born. At length, within three 
months after the birth of Patrick, she found that he was 
unfaithful to her, and immediately demanded a separate 
maintenance. To this her husband made no further objec- 
tion than policy required. But when she proceeded to im- 
pose an oath upon him that he would never take her child 
from her, the heart of the father demurred. Whereupon she 
swore that, if ever he made the attempt, she would poison 
the child rather than that he should succeed. He turned 
pale as death, and she saw that she had gained her point. 
And, indeed, the woman was capable of any thing to which 
she had made up her mind — a power over one's self and 
friends not desirable except in view of such an object as 
that of Lady Macbeth. But Mrs. Beauchamp, like her, con- 
sidered it only a becoming strength of spirit, and would 
have despised herself if she had broken one resolution for 
another indubitably better. So her husband bade her fare- 
well, and made no lamentations except over the probable 
result of such training as the child must receive at the 
hands of such a mother. She withdrew to a country town 
not far from the Moray Frith, where she might live com- 
fortably on her small income, be a person of some consider- 
ation, and reap all the advantages of the peculiar facilities 
which the place afforded for the education of her boy, whom 
she would mold and model after her own heart. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 151 

" So you see, Mr. — I forget yer name — Forbes ? yes, 
Forbes, if the rascal takes after his mother, you have 
made a dangerous enemy," said Mr, Cupples, in con- 
clusion. 

Alec laughed. 

" I advise you," resumed Mr. Cupples, " to keep a gleg 
ee in yer heid, though — seriously. A body may lauch ower 
aften. It winna do to gang glowerin' at rainbows. They're 
bonnie things, but they're nae brig-backs. Gin ye lippen 
to them, ye'll be i' the water in a cat-loup." 

Alec was beginning to enter into the humor of the 
man. 

" I see something like poetry lying about the table, Mr. 
Cupples," said he, with a sly allusion to the rainbows. 
" Would you let me look at it ? " 

Mr. Cupples glanced at him sharply ; but replied imme- 
diately : 

" Broken bits o' them ! And the rainbows cast {lose color) 
awfu', ance ye tak' the key-stane oot o' them. Lat them sit 
up there, brigs {bridges) ower naething, wi' nae road upo' 
the tap o' them, like the stane brig o' Drumdochart efter 
the spate [flood). Haud yer ban's and yer een aff o' 
them, as I tellt ye afore. — Ay, ay, ye can luik at thae screeds 
gin ye like. Only dinna say a word to me aboot ony o' 
them. And tak' warnin' by them yersel', never to write ae 
word o' poetry, to haud ye frae rivin'." 

" Sma' fear o' that ! " returned Alec, laughing. 

** Weel, I houp sae. — Ye can mak' a kirk an' a mill o' 
them, gin ye like. They hae lain there lang eneuch. Noo, 
haud yer tongue. I'm gaein' to fill my pipe again, afore I 
burn oot the dottle. I winna drink mair the nicht, cause 
it's the Sabbath, and I'm gaein' to read my buik." 

So saying, he proceeded to get the dottle out of his pipe, 
by knocking it on the hob ; while Alec took up the paper 
that lay nearest. He found it contained a fragment of a 
poem in the Scotch language ; and, searching amongst the 
rest of the scattered sheets, he soon got the whole of it 
together. 

Now, although Alec had but little acquaintance with 
verse, he was able, thanks to Annie Anderson, to enjoy a 
ballad very heartily ; and there was something in this one 
which, associating itself in his mind with the strange being 
before him moved him more than he could account for. 
It was called 



l82 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

TIME AND TIDE. 

As I was walkin' on the strand, 

I spied an auld man sit 
On ane auld rock ; and aye the waves 

Cam' washin' to its fit. 
And aye his lips gaed mutterin', 
And his ee was dull and blae. 
As I cam near, he luik'd at me. 
But this was a' his say : 
" Robbie and Jeannie war twa bonnie bairns, 
And they played thegither upo' the shore : 
Up cam' the tide 'tween the mune and the stems. 
And pairtit the twa wi' an eerie roar." 

What can the auld man mean, quo' I, 

Sittin' upo' the auld rock ? 
The tide creeps up wi' moan and cry, 

And a hiss 'maist like a mock. 
The words he mutters maun be the en' 

O' a weary, dreary sang — 
A deid thing floatin' in his brain. 
That the tide will no lat gang. 
" Robbie and Jeannie war twa bonnie bairns. 
And they played thegither upo' the shore : 
Up cam' the tide 'tween the mune and the stems, 
And pairtit the twa wi' an eerie roar." 

What pairtit them, auld man ? I said ; 

Did the tide come up ower Strang ? 
*Twas a braw deith for them that gaed. 

Their troubles warna lang. 
Or was ane ta'en, and the ither left — 

Ane to sing, ane to greet ? 
It's sair, richt sair, to be bereft, 
But the tide is at yer feet. 
" Robbie and Jeannie war twa bonnie bairns, 
And they played thegither upo' the shore : 
Up cam' the tide 'tween the mune and the sterns, 
And pairtit the twa wi' an eerie roar." 

Maybe, quo' I, 'twas Time's gray sea, 

Whase droonin' 's waur to bide ; 
But Death's a diver, seekin' ye 

Aneath its chokin' tide. 
And ye 11 luik in ane anither's ee 

Triumphin' ower gray Time. 
But never a word he answered me, 
But ower wi' his dreary chime — 
" Robbie and Jeannie war twa bonnie bairns, 
And they played thegither upo' the shore : 
Up cam' the tide 'tween the mune and the stems, 
And pairtit the twa wi' an eerie roar." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 183 

Maybe, auld man, said I, 'twas Change 

That crap atween the twa ? 
Hech ! that's a droonin' awfu' strange, 

Ane waur than ane and a'. 
He spak nae mair. I luik't and saw 

That the auld lips cudna gang. 
The tide unseen took him awa' — 
Left me to end his sang : 
" Robbie and Jeannie war twa bonnie bairns, 
And they played thegither upo' the shore : 
Up cam' the tide 'tween the mune and the sterns, 
And tuik them whaur pairtin' shall be no more." 

Before he had finished reading, the refrain had become so 
familiar to Alec, that he unconsciously murmured the last, 
changed as it was from the preceding form, aloud. Mr. 
Cupples looked up from Gurnall uneasily, fidgeted in his 
chair, and said testily : 

" A' nonsense ! Moonshine and rainbows ! Hand yer 
tongue ! The last line's a' wrang." 

He then returned with a determined air to the considera- 
tion of his Christian Armor, while Alec, in whom the minor 
tone of the poem had greatly deepened the interest he felt 
in the writer, gazed at him in a bewilderment like that one 
feels when his eyes refuse to take their proper relation to 
the perspective before them. He could not get those verses 
and Mr. Cupples into harmony. Not daring to make any 
observation, however, he sat with the last leaf still in his 
hand, and a reverential stare upon his face, which at length 
produced a remarkable effect upon the object of it. Sud- 
denly lifting his eyes — 

" What are ye glowerin' at me for ? " he exclaimed, fling- 
ing his book from him, which, missing the table, fell on the 
fioor on the further side of it. " I'm neither ghaist nor war- 
lock. Damn ye ! gang oot, gin ye be gaun to stick me 
throu' and throu' wi' yer een, that gait." 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Cupples. I didn't mean to be 
rude," said Alec humbly. 

'* Weel, cut yer stick. I hae eneuch o' ye for ae nicht. I 
canna stan' glowerin' een, especially i' the heids o' idiots o' 
innocents like you." 

I am sorry to have to record what Alec learned from the 
landlady afterwards, that Mr. Cupples went to bed that 
night, notwithstanding it was the Sabbath, more drunk than 
she had ever known him. Indeed he could not properly be 
said to have gone to bed at all, for he had tumbled on the 



184 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

counterpane in his clothes and clean shirt-collar ; where she 
had found him fast asleep the next morning, with Gurnall's 
Christian Armor terribly crumpled under him. 

" But," said Alec, " what is Mr. Cupples ? " 

" That's a question he cudna weel answer ye himsel','' was 
the reply. " He does a heap o' things ; writes for the law- 
yers whiles ; buys and sells queer bulks ; gies lessons in 
Greek and Hebrew — but he disna like that — he canna bide 
to be centred, and laddies is gey contresome ; helps ony 
body that wants help i' the way o' figures — whan their bulks 
gang wrang ye ken, for figures is some ill for jummlin.' 
He's a kin' o' librarian at yer ain college i' the noo, Mr. 
Forbes. The auld man's deid, and Mr, Cupples is jistdoin' 
the wark. They winna gie him the place — 'cause he has an 
ill name for drink — but they'll git as muckle wark oot o' him 
as gin they did, and for half the siller. The body bauds at 
ony thing weel eneuch a' day, but the minute he comes 
hame, oot comes the tappit hen, and he jist sits doon and 
drinks till he turns the warl upo' the tap o' 'm." 

The next day, about noon. Alec went into the library, 
where he found Mr. Cupples busy re-arranging the books 
and the catalogue, both of which had been neglected for 
years. This was the first of many visits to the library, or 
rather to the librarian. 

There was a certain mazy sobriety of demeanor about 
Mr. Cupples all day long, as if in the presence of such 
serious things as books he was bound to be upon his good 
behavior, and confine his dissipation to taking snuff in pro- 
digious quantities. He was full of information about books, 
and had, besides, opinions concerning them, which were 
always ready to assume quaint and decided expressions. 
For instance : one afternoon. Alec having taken up Tristram 
Shandy and asked him what kind of a book it was, the pro- 
librarian snatched it from his hands and put it on the shelf 
again, answering : 

** A pailace o' dirt and impidence and speeritual stink. 
The clever deevil had his entrails in his breest and his hert 
in his belly, and regairdet neither God nor his ain mither. 
His lauchter's no like the cracklin' o' thorns unnerapot, but 
like the nicherin' o' a deil ahin' the wainscot. Lat him sit 
and rot there ! " 

Asking him another day what sort of poet Shelley was, 
Alec received the answer : 

" A bonny cratur, wi' mair thochts nor there was room 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 185 

for i' the bit heid o' 'm. Consequently he gaed staiggerin' 
aboot as gin he had been tied to the tail o' an inveesible 
balloon. Unco licht heidit, but no muckle hairm in him by 
natur'." 

He never would remain in the library after the day began 
to ebb. The moment he became aware that the first filmy 
shadow had fallen from the coming twilight, he caught up 
his hat, locked the door, gave the key to the sacrist, and 
hurried away. 

The friendly relation between the two struck its roots 
deeper and deeper during the session, and Alec bade him 
good-by with regret. 

Mr. Cupples was a baffled poet trying to be a humorist 
— baffled — not by the booksellers or the public — for such 
baffling one need not have a profound sympathy — but 
baffled by his own weakness, his incapacity for assimilating 
sorrow, his inability to find or invent a theory of the universe 
which should show it still beautiful despite of passing pain, 
of checked aspiration, of the ruthless storms that lay waste 
the Edens of men, and dissolve the high triumph of their 
rainbows. He had yet to learn that through " the heartache 
and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to," man 
becomes capable of the blessedness to which all the legends 
of a golden age point. Not finding, when he most needed 
it, such a theory even in the New Testament — for he had 
been diligently taught to read it awry — Mr. Cupples took to 
jesting and toddy ; but, haunting the doors of Humor, 
never got further than the lobby. 

With regard to Patrick Beauchamp, as far as Alec could 
see, his dignity had succeeded in consoling itself for the 
humiliation it had undergone, by an absolute and eternal 
renunciation of all knowledge of Alec Forbes's existence. 



CHAPTER XL. 



Winter had begun to withdraw his ghostly troops, and 
Glamerton began to grow warmer. Not half so many cold 
feet dangled from the cold legs of little children in the tor- 
turing churches ; not half so many coughs tore the chests of 
the poor old men and women as they stooped over their 



l86 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

little fires, with the blasts from door and window-sill in their 
ankles and the backs of their necks. Annie, who had been 
very happy all the time, began to be aware of something 
more at hand. A flutter scarcely recognizable, as of the 
wings of awaking delight, would stir her little heart with a 
sensation of physical presence and motion ; she would find 
herself giving an involuntary skip as she walked along, and 
now and then humming a bit of a psalm tune. A hidden 
well was throbbing in the child's bosom. Its waters had 
been frozen by the winter ; and the spring, which sets all 
things springing, had made it flow and swell afresh, soon to 
break bubbling forth. But her joy was gentle, for even 
when she was merriest, it was in a sober, douce, and maidenly 
fashion, testifying that she had already walked with Sorrow, 
and was not afraid of her. 

Robert Bruce's last strategical move against the com- 
munity had been tolerably successful, even in his own eyes ; 
and he was consequently so far satisfied with himself, that 
he could afford to be in good humor with other people. 
Annie came in for a share of this humor ; and although she 
knew him too well to have any regard for him, it was yet a 
comfort to her to be on such terms with him as not to have 
to dread a bitter word every time she chanced to meet him. 
This comfort, however, stood on a sandy foundation ; for 
the fact that an expected customer had not called upon the 
Saturday might be enough to set the acetous ferment- 
ation at work all the Sunday in the bosom of Robert 
Bruce. 

At length, one bright day in the end of March, Alec came 
home, not the worse to friendly eyes for having been at 
college. He seemed the same cheery, active youth as 
before. The chief differences apparent were, that he had 
grown considerably, and that he wore a coat. The hat, at 
that time a necessary portion of the college costume, he had 
discarded, wearing his old cap in preference. There was 
likewise a certain indescribable alteration in tone and man- 
ner, a certain general crystallization and polish, which the 
same friends regarded as an indubitable improvement. 

The day after his arrival, crossing the square of Glamer- 
ton, he spied, in a group of men talking together, his old 
friend, Thomas Crann. He went up and shook hands with 
him, and with Andrew Constable, the clothier. 

*' Has na he grown a lang chield ? " said Andrew to 
Thomas, regarding Alec kindly. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 187 

" Humph ! " returned Thomas, " he'll jistneed the langer 
coffin." 

Alec laughed ; but Andrew said, *' Hoot ! hoot ! " 

Thomas and Alec walked away together. But scarcely a 
sentence had been exchanged before the stonemason, with a 
delicacy of perception of which his rough manner and horny 
hands gave no indication, felt that a film of separation had 
come between the youth and himself. Anxious to break 
through it, he said abruptly : 

" Hoo's yer immortal pairt, Alec ? Min' ye, there's a 
knowledge that worketh deith." 

Alec laughed — not scornfully — but he laughed. 

" Ye may lauch. Alec, but it's a sair trowth," said the 
mason. 

Alec held out his hand, for here their way diverged. 
Thomas shook it kindly, but walked away gloomy. Arrived 
at home, he shut to his door, and went down on his knees 
by his bedside. When Jean came with his supper she found 
the door fast. 

In order to prepare for the mathematical studies of the 
following year, Alec went to the school again in the morn- 
ing of most days, Mr. Malison being well able to render him 
all the assistance he required. The first time he made his 
appearance at the door a silence as of death was the sign 
of his welcome ; but a tumult presently arose and discipline 
was for a time suspended. I am afraid he had a slight 
feeling of condescension, as he returned the kind greeting 
of his old companions. — Raise a housemaid to be cook, and 
she will condescend to the new housemaid. 

Annie sat still, staring at her book, and turning red and 
pale alternately. But he took no notice of her, and she 
tried to be glad of it. 

When school was over, however, he came up to her in the 
lane, and addressed her kindly. 

But the delicate little maiden felt as the rough stone- 
mason had felt, that a change had passed over the old com- 
panion and friend. True, the change was only a breath — a 
mere shadow. Yet it was a measureless gulf between them. 
Annie went to her garret that night with a sense of sad pri- 
vation. 

But her pain sprang from a source hardly so deep as that 
of the stonemason. For the change she found in Alec was 
chiefly of an external kind, and if she had a vague feeling 
of a deeper change, it had scarcely yet come up into her 



l88 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

consciousness. When she saw the jjw/;;^,^^;;//^;;;^;/ her heart 
sank within her. Her friend was lost ; and a shape was 
going about, as he did, looking awfully like the old Alec, 
who had carried her in his arms through the invading tor- 
rent; Nor was there wanting to complete the bewilderment 
of her feeling a certain additional reverence for the appa- 
rition, which she must after all regard as a further develop- 
ment of the same person. 

Mrs. Forbes never asked her to the house now, and it was 
well for her that her friendship with Tibbie Dyster had 
begun. But as she saw Alec day after day at school, the 
old colors began to revive out of the faded picture — for to 
her it was a faded picture, although new varnished. And 
when the spring had advanced a little, the boat was got out, 
and then Alec could not go rowing in the Bonnie Annie 
without thinking of its godmother, and inviting her to join 
them. Indeed Curly would not have let him forget her if 
he had been so inclined ; for he felt that she was a bond 
between him and Alec, and he loved Alec the more devot- 
edly that the rift between their social positions had begun 
to show itself. The devotion of the schoolboy to his superior 
in schoolboy arts had begun to change into something 
like the devotion of clansman to his chief — not the worst 
folly the world has known — in fact not a folly at all, except 
it stop there : many enthusiasms are follies only because 
they are not greater enthusiasms. And not unfrequently 
would an odd laugh of consciousness between Annie and 
Curly, unexpectedly meeting, reveal the fact that they were 
both watching for a peep or a word of Alec. 

In due time the harvest came ; and Annie could no more 
keep from haunting the harvest than the crane could keep 
from flying south when the summer is over. She watched 
all the fields around Glamerton ; she knew what response 
each made to the sun, and which would first be ripe for the 
reaping ; and the very day that the sickle was put in, there 
was Annie to see and share in the joy. How mysterious 
she thought those long colonnades of slender pillars, each 
supporting its own waving comet-head of barley ! Or when 
the sun was high, she would lie down on the ground, and 
look far into the little forest of yellow polished oat-stems, 
stretching away and away into the unseen — alas, so soon to 
fall, and leave a naked commonplace behind ! If she were 
only small enough to go wandering about in it, what won- 
ders might she not discover ! — But I forget that I am tell- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 189 

ing a story, and not writing a fairy-tale. — Unquestioned as 
uninvited, she was, as she had often been before, one of the 
company of reapers, gatherers, binders and stookers, 
assembled to collect the living gold of the earth from the 
early fields of the farm of Howglen. Sadly her thoughts 
went back to the old days when Dowie was master of the 
field, and she was Dowie's little mistress. Not that she 
met with any thing but kindness — only it was not the kind- 
ness she had had from Dowie. But the pleasure of being 
once more near Alec almost made up for every loss. And 
he was quite friendly, although, she must confess, not quite 
so familiar as of old. But that did not matter, she assured 
herself. 

The laborers all knew her, and themselves took care that 
she should have the portion of their food which her assist- 
ance had well earned, and which was all her wages. She 
never refused any thing that was offered her, except money. 
That she had taken only once in her life — from Mr. Cowie, 
whom she continued to love the more dearly for it, although 
she no longer attended his church. 

But again the harvest was safely lodged, and the sad old 
age of the year sank through rains and frosts to his grave. 

The winter came and Alec went. 

He had not been gone a week when Mrs. Forbes's invita- 
tions re-commenced : and, as if to make up for the neglect 
of the summer, they were more frequent than before. No 
time was so happy for Annie as the time she spent with her. 
She never dreamed of accusing her of fickleness or uneven- 
ness, but received whatever kindness she offered with grati- 
tude. And, this winter, she began to make some return in 
the way of household assistance. 

One day, while searching in the lumber-room for some- 
thing for Mrs. Forbes, she came upon a little book lying 
behind a box. It was damp and swollen and moldy, and 
the binding was decayed and broken. The inside was 
dingy and spotted with brown spots, and had too many/'s 
in it, as she thought. Yet the first glance fascinated her. 
It had opened in the middle of L' Allegro. Mrs. Forbes 
found her standing spell-bound, reading the rhymed poems 
of the man whose blank-verse, two years before, she had 
declined as not wh^it poetry ought to be. I have often seen 
a child refuse his food, and, after being compelled to eat 
one mouthful, gladly devour the whole. In like manner 
Annie, having once tasted Milton's poetry, did not let it go 



IpO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

till she had devoured even the Paradise Lost, of which when 
she could not make sense, she at least made music — the 
chorus of old John Milton's organ sounding through his 
son's poetry in the brain of a little Scotch lassie who never 
heard an organ in her life. 



CHAPTER XLI. 



" HiLLO, bantam ! " exclaimed Mr. Cupples, to Alec, 
entering his garret within an hour of his arrival in his old 
quarters, and finding the soul of the librarian still hovering 
in the steam of his tumbler, like one of Swedenborg's damned 
over the odor of his peculiar hell. As he spoke he emptied 
the glass, the custom of drinking from which, instead of 
from the tumbler itself — rendering it impossible to get drunk 
all at once — is one of the atonements offered by the Scotch 
to their tutelar god — Propriety. — " Come awa'. What are 
ye stan'in' there for, as gin ye warna at hame," he added, 
seeing that Alec lingered on the threshold. " Sit doon. I'm 
nae a'thegither sorry to see ye." 

" Have you been to the country, Mr. Cupples ? " asked 
Alec, as he took a chair. 

" The country ! Na, I haena been i' the country. I'm a 
toon-snail. The country's for calves and geese. It's ower 
green for me. I like the gray stanes — weel biggit, to baud 
oot the cauld. I jist reverse the opingon o' the auld duke 
in Mr. Shackspere ; — for this my life 

' Find trees in tongues, its running brooks in books, 
Stones in sermons, ' 

and I canna gang on ony farther wi' 't. The last's true, ony 
gait. I winna gie ye ony toddy though." 

" I dinna want nane." 

" That's richt. Keep to that negation as an anchor o' the 
soul, sure and steadfast. There's no boddom to the sea 
ye'll gang doon in gin ye cut the cable that bauds ye to that 
anchor. Here's to ye ! " 

And again Mr. Cupples emptied his glass. 

" PIoo are ye prepared for ycr mathematics ? " he resumed. 

" Middlin' only," answered Alec. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I9I 

" I was doobtin' that. Sma' preparation does weel eneuch 
for Professor Eraser's Greek ; but ye'U fin' it's anither story 
wi' the mathematics. Ye maun jist come to me wi' them as 
ye did wi' the Greek." 

" Thank you, Mr. Cupples," said Alec heartily. " I don't 
know how to repay you." 

" Repay me ! I want nae repayment. Only spier nae 
questions at me, and gang awa' whan I'm drunk." 

After all his summer preparation. Alec was still behind in 
mathematics ; for while, with a distinct object in view, he 
was capable of much — without one reading was a weariness 
to him. His medical studies, combining, as they did, in their 
anatomical branch, much to be learned by the eye and the 
hand with what was to be learned from books, interested 
him more and more. 

One afternoon, intent upon a certain course of investiga- 
tion, he remained in the dissecting-room after the other 
students had gone, and worked away till it grew dark. He 
then lighted a candle, and worked on. The truth was un- 
folding itself gently and willingly. At last, feeling tired, he 
laid down his scalpel, dropped upon a wooden chair, and, 
cold as it was, fell fast asleep. When he awoke, the candle 
was bobbing in its socket, alternately lighting and shadowing 
the dead man on the table. Strange glooms were gathering 
about the bottles on the shelves, and especially about one 
, corner of the room, where — but I must not particularize too 
much. It must be remembered that he had awaked sud- 
denly, in a strange place, and with a fitful light. He con- 
fessed to Mr. Cupples that he had felt a little uncomforta- 
ble — not frightened, but eerie. He was just going to rise 
and go home, when, as he stretched out his hand for his 
scalpel, the candle sunk in darkness, and he lost the guiding 
glitter of the knife. At the same moment, he caught a 
doubtful gleam of two eyes looking in at him from one of 
the windows. That moment the place became insupportable 
with horror. The vague sense of an undefined presence 
turned the school of science into a charnel-house. He 
started up, hurried from the room, feeling as if his feet took 
no hold of the floor and his back was fearfully exposed, 
locked the door, threw the key upon the porter's table, and 
fled. He did not recover his equanimity till he found him- 
self in the long, narrow street that led to his lodgings, 
lighted from many little shop windows in stone gable and 
front. 



192 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

By the time he had had his tea, and learned a new prop- 
osition of Euclid, the fright seemed to lie far behind him. 
It was not so far as he thought, however, for he started to 
his feet when a sudden gust of wind shook his windows. 
But then it was a still, frosty night, and such a gust was 
not to be expected. He looked out. Far above shone the 
stars. 

" How they sparkle in the frost ! " he said, as if the frost 
reached them. But they did look like the essential life that 
makes snow-flakes and icy spangles every where — they 
were so like them, only they were of fire. Even snow itself 
must have fire at the heart of it. — AH was still enough up 
there. 

Then he looked down into the street, full of the comings 
and goings of people, some sauntering and staring, others 
hastening along. Beauchamp was looking in at the window 
of a second-hand book-shop opposite. 

Not being able to compose himself again at his studies, 
he resolved, as he had not called on Mr. Eraser for some 
time, and the professor had not been at the class that day, to 
go and inquire after him now. 

Mr. Eraser lived in the quadrangle of the college ; but in 
the mood Alec was in, nothing would do him so much good 
as a walk in the frost. He was sure of a welcome from the 
old man ; for although Alec gave but little attention to 
Greek now, Mr. Eraser was not at all dissatisfied with him, 
knowing that he was doing his best to make himself a good 
doctor. His friendliness toward him had increased ; for 
he thought he saw in him noble qualities ; and now that he 
was getting an old man, he delighted to have a youth near 
him with whose youthfulness he could come into harmoni- 
ous contact. It is because the young can not recognize the 
youth of the aged, and the old will not acknowledge the ex- 
perience of the young, that they repel each other. 

Alec was shown into the professor's drawing-room. This 
was unusual. The professor was seated in an easy chair, 
with one leg outstretched before him. 

" Excuse me, Mr. Eorbes," he said, holding out his left 
hand without rising. " I am laid up with the gout — I don't 
know why. The port wine my grandfather drank, I sup- 
pose. / never drink it. I'm afraid it's old age. And yon's 
my nurse. — Mr. Eorbes, your cousin, Kate, my dear." 

Alec started. There, at the other side of the fire, sat a 
girl, half smiling and half blushing as she looked up from 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I93 

her work. The candles between them had hid her from him. 
He advanced, and she rose and held out her hand. He was 
confused ; she was perfectly collected, although the color 
rose a little more in her cheek. She might have been a year 
older than Alec. 

" So you are a cousin of mine, Mr. Forbes ! " she said, 
when they were all seated by the blazing fire — she with a 
piece of plain work in her hands, he with a very awkward 
nothing in his, and the professor contemplating his swathed 
leg on the chair before him. 

" So your uncle says," he answered, " and I am very 
happy to believe him. I hope we shall be good friends." 

Alec was recovering himself. 

" I hope we shall," she responded, with a quick, shy, ask- 
ing glance from her fine eyes. 

Those eyes were worth looking into, if only as a study of 
color. They were of many hues marvelously blended. I 
think gray and blue and brown and green were all to be 
found in them. Their glance rather discomposed Alec. 
He had not learned before that ladies' eyes are sometimes 
very discomposing. Yet he could not keep his from 
wandering towards them ; and the consequence was that he 
soon lost the greater part of his senses. After sitting speech- 
less for some moments, and feeling as if he had been dumb 
for as many minutes, he was seized by a horrible conviction 
that if he remained silent an instant longer, he would be 
driven to do or say something absurd. So he did the latter 
at once by bursting out with the stupid question, 

" What are you working at ? " 

"A duster," she answered instantly — this time without 
looking up. 

Now the said duster was of the finest cambric ; so that 
Alec could not help seeing that she was making game of 
him. This banished his shyness, and put him on his mettle. 

" I see," he said, " when I ask you questions, you — " 

" Tell lies," she interposed, without giving him time even 
to hesitate ; adding, 

" Does your mother answer all your questions, Mr. 
Forbes ?" 

*' I believe she does — one way or other." 

" Then it is sometimes the other way ? Is she nice ? " 

"Who?" returned Alec, surprised into doubt. 

" Your mother." 

" She's the best woman in the world," he answered with 



194 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

vehemence, almost shocked at having to answer such a 
question. 

" Oh ! I beg your pardon," returned Kate, laughing ; and 
the laugh curled her lip, revealing very pretty teeth, with a 
semi-transparent pearly-blue shadow in them. 

" I am glad she is nice," she went on. " I should like to 
know her. Mothers are not always nice. I knew a girl at 
school whose mother wasn't nice at all." 

She did not laugh after this childish speech, but let her 
face settle into perfect stillness — sadness indeed, for a 
shadow came over the stillness. Mr. Fraser sat watching 
the two with his amused old face, one side of it twitching in 
the effort to suppress the smile which sought to break from 
the useful half of his mouth. His gout could not have been 
very bad just then. 

" I see, Katie, what that long chin of yours is thinking," 
he said. 

" What is my chin thinking, uncle ? " she asked. 

" That uncles are not always nice either. They snub 
little girls, sometimes, don't they ? " 

" I know one who is nice, all except one naughty leg." 

She rose, as she said this, and going round to the back of 
his chair, leaned over it, and kissed his forehead. The old 
man looked up to her gratefully. 

" Ah, Katie ! " he said, " you may make game of an old 
man like me. But don't try your tricks on Mr. Forbes. 
He won't stand them." 

Alec blushed. Kate went back to her seat, and took up 
her duster again. 

Alec was a little short-sighted, though he had never dis- 
covered it till now. When Kate leaned over her uncle's 
chair, near which he was sitting, he saw that she was still 
prettier than he had thought her before. There are few 
girls who to a short-sighted person look prettier when they 
come closer ; the fact being that the general intent of the 
face, which the generalizing effect of the shortness of the 
sight reveals, has ordinarily more of beauty in it than has 
yet been carried out in detail ; so that, as the girl ap- 
proaches, one face seems to melt away, and another less 
beautiful to dawn up through it. 

But, as I have said, this was not Alec's experience with 
Kate ; for, whatever it might indicate, she looked prettier 
when she came nearer. He found too that her great mass 
of hair, instead of being, as he thought, dull, was in reaUty 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, I95 

full of glints and golden hints, as if she had twisted up a 
handful of sunbeams with it in the morning, which, before 
night, had faded a little, catching something of the duski- 
ness and shadowiness of their prison. One thing more he 
saw — that her hand — she rested it on the back of the dark 
chair, and so it had caught his eye — was small and white ; 
and those were all the qualities Alec was as yet capable of 
appreciating in a hand. Before she got back to her seat he 
was very nearly in love with her. I suspect that those gen- 
erally who fall in love at first sight have been in love before. 
At least such was Romeo's case. And certainly it was not 
Alec's. Yet, I must confess, if he had talked stupidly 
before, he talked worse now ; and at length went home 
with the conviction that he had made a great donkey of 
himself. 

As he walked the lonely road, and the street now fast closing 
its windows and going to sleep, he was haunted by a very 
different vision from that which had accompanied him a few 
hours ago. Then it was the dead face of a man, into which 
his busy fancy had reset the living eyes that he had seen 
looking in at the window of the dissecting-room ; now it 
was the lovely face of his new-found cousin, possessing him 
so that he could fear nothing. Life had cast out death. 
Love had cast out fear. 

But love had cast out more. For he found when he got 
home, that he could neither read nor think. If Kate could 
have been conscious of its persistent intrusion upon Alec's 
thoughts and its constant interruption of his attempts at 
study, she would have been ashamed of that pretty face of 
hers, and ready to disown it for its forwardness. At last, 
he threw his book to the other end of the room and went to 
bed, where he found it not half so difficult to go to sleep as 
it had been to study. 

The next day things went better ; for he was not yet so 
lost that a night's rest could do him no good. But it was 
fortunate that there was no Greek class, and that he was not 
called up to read Latin that day. For the anatomy, he was 
in earnest about that ; and love itself, so long as its current 
is not troubled by opposing rocks, will not disturb the studies 
of a real student much. 

As he left the dissecting-room he said to himself that he 
would just look in and see how Mr. Fraser was. He was 
shown into the professor's study. 

Mr. Fraser smiled as he entered with a certain grim com- 



196 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

icality which Alec's conscience interpreted into : " This won't 
do, my young man." 

" I hope your gout is better to-day, sir," he said, sending 
his glance wide astray of his words. 

" Yes, I thank you, Mr. Forbes," answered Mr. Fraser, 
" it is better. Won't you sit down ? " 

Warned by that smile, Alec was astute enough to decline, 
and presently took his leave. As he shut the study door, 
however, he thought he would just peep into the dining- 
room, the door of which stood open opposite. There she 
was, sitting at the table, writing. 

"Who can that letter be to ?" thought Alec. But it was 
early days to be jealous. 

" How do you do, Mr. Forbes ? " said Kate, holding out 
her hand. 

Could it be that he had seen her only yesterday ? Or was 
his visual memory so fickle that he had forgotten what she 
was like ? She was so different from what he had been fan- 
cying her. 

The fact was merely this — that she had been writing to an 
old friend, and her manner for the time, as well as her 
expression, was affected by her mental proximity to that 
friend ; so plastic — so fluent even — was her whole nature. 
Indeed, Alec was not long in finding out that one of her 
witcheries was, that she was never the same. But on this, 
the first occasion, the alteration in her had bewildered him. 

" I am glad to find your uncle much better," he said. 

" Yes. You have seen him, then ? " 

" Yes. I was very busy in the dissecting-room, till — " 

He stopped ; for he saw her shudder. 

" I beg your pardon," he hastened to substitute. " We 
are so used to those things, that — " 

" Don't say a word more about it, please," she said has- 
tily. Then, in a vague kind of way — " Won't you sit 
down ? " 

" No, thank you. I must go home," answered Alec, feel- 
ing that she did not want him. " Good-night," he added, 
advancing a step. 

" Good-night, Mr. Forbes," she returned in the same 
manner, and without extending her hand. 

Alec checked himself, bowed, and went with a feeling of 
mortification and the resolution not to repeat his visit too 
soon. 

She interfered with his studies notwithstanding, and sent 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 197 

him wandering in the streets, when he ought to have been 
reading at home. One bright moonUght night he found 
himself on the quay, and spying a boat at the foot of one of 
the stairs, asked the man in it if he was ready for a row. 
The man agreed. Alec got in, and they rowed out of the 
river, and along the coast to a fishing village where the man 
lived, and whence Alec walked home. This was the begin- 
ning of many such boating excursions made by Alec in the 
close of this session. They greatly improved his boatman- 
ship, and strengthened his growing muscles. The end of 
the winter was mild, and there were not many days unfit for 
the exercise. 



CHAPTER XLII. 



The next Saturday but one Alec received a note from Mr, 
Fraser, hoping that his new cousin had not driven him away, 
and inviting him to dine that same afternoon. 

He went. After dinner the old man fell asleep in his 
chair. 

" Where were you born ? " Alec asked Kate. 

She was more like his first impression of her. 

" Don't you know ? " she replied. " In the north of Suth- 
erlandshire — near the foot of a great mountain, from the top 
of which, on the longest day, you can see the sun, or a bit of 
him at least, all night long." 

" How glorious ! " said Alec. 

" I don't know. / never saw him. And the winters are 
so long and terrible ! Nothing but snowy hills about you, 
and great clouds always coming down with fresh loads of 
snow to scatter over them." 

" Then you don't want to go back ? " 

" No. There is nothing to make me wish to go back. 
There is no one there to love me now." 

She looked very sad for a few moments. 

" Yes," said Alec, thoughtfully ; " a winter without love 
must be dreadful. But I like the winter ; and we have 
plenty of it in our quarter, too." 

" Where is your home ? " 

" Not many miles north of this." 

" Is it a nice place ? " 



198 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Of course I think so." 

" Ah ! you have a mother. I wish I knew her." 

" I wish you did. True : the whole place is like her to 
me. But I don't think every body would admire it. There 
are plenty of bare snowy hills there too in winter. But I 
think the summers and the harvests are as delightful as any 
thing can be, except — " 

" Except what ? " 

" Don't make me say what will make you angry with me." 

" Now you must, else I shall fancy something that will 
make me more angry." 

" Except your face, then," said Alec, frightened at his own 
boldness, but glancing at her shyly. 

She flushed a little, but did not look angry. 

*' I don't like that," she said. " It makes one feel awk- 
ward." 

" At least," rejoined Alec, emboldened, " you must allow 
it is your own fault." 

" I can't help my face," she said, laughing. 

" Oh ! you know what I mean. You made me say it." 

" Yes, after you had half-said it already. Don't do it 
again." 

And there followed more of such foolish talk, uninterest- 
ing to my readers. 

" Where were you at school ? " asked Alec, after a pause, 
" Your uncle told me you were at school." 

" Near London," she answered. 

"Ah ! that accounts for your beautiful speech," 

" There again. I declare 1 will wake my uncle if you go 
on in that way." 

" I beg your pardon," protested Alec ; " I forgot." 

" But," she went on, " in Sutherlandshire we don't talk so 
horribly as they do here." 

" I dare say not," returned Alec, humbly. 

" I don't mean you. I wonder how it is that you speak so 
much better than all the people here." 

" I suppose because mother speaks well. She never lets 
me speak broad Scotch to her." 

" Your mother again ! She's every thing to you," 

Alec did not reply. 

" I should like to see her," pursued Kate. 

"You must come and see her, then." 

" See whom ? " asked Mr Eraser, rousing himself from 
his nap. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. I99 

" My mother, sir," answered Alec. 

" Oh ! I thought you had been speaking of Katie's friend," 
said the professor, and fell asleep again. 

" Uncle means Bessie Warner, who is coming by the 
steamer from London on Monday. Isn't it kind of uncle to 
ask her to come and see me here ? " 

" He is always kind. Was Miss Warner a schoolfellow of 
yours? " 

" Yes — no — not exactly. She was one of the governesses. 
I must go and meet her at the steamer. Will you go with 
me ?" 

" I shall be delighted. Do you know when she arrives ? " 

"They say about six. I dare say it is not very 
punctual." 

"Oh! yes, she is — when the weather is decent. I will 
make inquiries, and come and fetch you." 

" Thank you. I suppose I may, uncle ?" 

" What, my dear ? " said the professor, rousing himself 
again. 

" Have my cousin to take care of me when I go to meet 
Bessie." 

" Yes, certainly. I shall be much obliged to you, Mr. 
Forbes. I am not quite so agile as I was at your age, 
though my gouty leg is better." 

This conversation would not have been worth recording 
were it not that it led to the walk and the waiting on Mon- 
day. They found, when they reached the region of steamers, 
that she had not yet been signaled, but her people were 
expecting the signal every minute. So Alec and Kate 
walked out along the pier, to pass the time. The pier runs 
down the side of the river, and a long way into the sea. It 
had begun to grow dark, and Alec had to take great care of 
Kate amongst the tramways, coils of rope and cables that 
crossed their way. At length they got clear of these, and 
found themselves upon the pier, built of great rough stones 
— lonely and desert, tapering away into the dark, its end 
invisible, but indicated by the red light far in front. 

" It is a rough season of the year for a lady to come by 
sea," said Alec. 

" Bessie is very fond of the sea," answered Kate. " I 
hope you will like her, Mr. Forbes." 

" Do you want me to like her better than you ? " rejoined 
Alec. " Because if you do " 

" Look how beautiful that red light is on the other side 



200 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

of the river," interrupted Kate. *' And there is another 
further out." 

" When the man at the helm gets those two Hghts in a 
Une," said Alec, " he may steer straight in, in the darkest 
night — that is, if the tide serves for the bar." 

" Look how much more glorious the red shine is on the 
water below ! " said Kate. 

" It looks so wet ! " returned Alec, — " just like blood." 

He almost cursed himself as he said so, for he felt Kate's 
hand stir as if she would withdraw it from his arm. But 
after fluttering like a bird for a moment, it settled again 
upon its perch, and there rested. 

The day had been quite calm, but now a sudden gust of 
wind from the north-east swept across the pier and made 
Kate shiver. Alec drew her shawl closer about her, and her 
arm further within his. They were now close to the sea. 
On the other side of the wall which rose on their left they 
could hear the first of the sea-waves. It was a dreary 
place — no sound even indicating the neighborhood of life. 
On one side, the river below them went flowing out to the 
sea in the dark, giving a cold sluggish gleam now and then, 
as if it were a huge snake heaving up a bend of its wet 
back, as it hurried away to join its fellows ; on the other 
side rose a great wall of stone, beyond which was the sound 
of long waves following in troops out of the dark, and fall- 
ing upon a low moaning coast. Clouds hung above the 
sea ; and above the clouds two or three disconsolate stars. 

" Here is a stair," said Alec. " Let us go up on the top of 
the sea-wall, and then we shall catch the first glimpse of the 
light at her funnel." 

They climbed the steep, rugged steps, and stood on the 
broad wall, hearing the sea-pulses lazily fall at its foot. The 
wave crept away after it fell, and returned to fall again like 
a weary hound. There was hardly any life in the sea. How 
mournful it was to lie out there, the wintry night, beneath 
an all but starless heaven, with the wind vexing it when it 
wanted to sleep ! 

Alec feeling Kate draw a deep breath like the sigh of the 
sea, looked round in her face. There was still light enough 
to show it frowning and dark and sorrowful and hopeless. 
It was in fact a spiritual mirror, which reflected in human 
forms the look of that weary waste of waters. She gave a 
little start, gathered herself together, and murmured some- 
thing about the cold. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 20I 

" Let US go down again," said Alec. " The wind has risen 
considerably, and the wall will shelter us down below." 

" No, no," she answered ; " I like it. We can walk here 
just as well. I don't mind the wind." 

" I thought you were afraid of falling off." 

" No, not in the dark. I should be, I dare say, if I could 
see how far we are from the bottom." 

So they walked on. The waves no longer fell at the foot 
of the wall, but leaned their breasts agamst it, gleaming as 
they rose on its front, and darkening as they sank low 
toward its deep base. 

The wind kept coming in gusts, tearing a white gleam now 
and then on the dark surface of the sea. Behind them 
shone the dim lights of the city ; before them all was -dark 
as eternity, except for the one light at the end of the pier. 
At length Alec spied another out at sea. 

" I believe that is the steamer," he said. *'But she is a 
good way off. We shall have plenty of time to walk to the 
end — that is, if you would like to go." 

" Certainly ; let us go on. I want to stand on the very 
point," answered Kate. 

They soon came to the lighthouse on the wall, and there 
descended to the lower part of the pier, the end of which 
now plunged with a steep descent into the sea. It was con- 
structed of great stones clamped with iron, and built into a 
natural foundation of rock. Up the slope the waves rushed, 
and down the slope they sank again, with that seemingly 
aimless and resultless rise and fall, which makes the sea so 
dreary and sad to those men and women who are not satis- 
fied without some goal in view, some outcome of their 
labors ; for it goes on and on, answering ever to the call of 
sun and moon, and the fierce trumpet of the winds, yet 
working nothing but the hopeless wear of the bosom in 
which it lies bound forever. 

They stood looking out into the great dark before them, 
dark air, dark sea, dark sky, watching the one light which 
grew brighter as they gazed. Neither of them saw that a 
dusky figure was watching them from behind a great cylin- 
drical stone that stood on the end of the pier, close to the 
wall. 

A wave rushed up almost to their feet. 

" Let us go," said Kate, with a shiver. " I can't bear it 
longer. The water is calling me and threatening me. There J 
How that wave rushed up as if it wanted me at once ! " 



202 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Alec again drew her closer to him, and turning, they 
walked slowly back. He was silent with the delight of 
having that lovely creature all to himself, leaning on his arm, 
in the infolding and protecting darkness, and Kate was like- 
wise silent. 

By the time they reached the quay at the other end of the 
pier, the steamer had crossed the bar, and they could hear 
the thud of her paddles treading the water beneath them, as 
if eagerly because she was near her rest. After a few strug- 
gles, she lay quiet in her place, and they went on board. 

Alec saw Kate embrace a girl perhaps a little older than 
herself, helped her to find her luggage, put them into a 
chaise, took his leave, and went home. 

He did not know that all the way back along the pier 
they had been followed by Patrick Beauchamp. 



CHAPTER XLHI. 



Excited, and unable to settle to his work, Alec ran 
upstairs to Mr. Cupples, whom he had not seen for some 
days. He found him not more than half-way towards his 
diurnal goal. 

" What's come o* you, bantam, this mony a day ? " said 
Mr. Cupples. 

" I saw ye last Saturday," said Alec. 

" Last Setterday week, ye mean," rejoined the librarian. 
" Hoo's the mathematics comin' on ? " 

" To tell the truth, I'm rather ahin' wi' them," answered 
Alec. 

" I was thinkin' as muckle. Rainbows ! Thae rainbows ! 
And the anawtomy ? " 

" Nae jist stan'in' still a'thegither." 

" That's weel. Ye haena been fa'in' asleep again ower 
the guddlet carcass o' an auld pauper — hae ye ? " 

Alec stared. He had never told any one of his adven- 
ture in the dissecting-room. 

" I saw ye, my man. But I wasna the only ane that saw 
ye. Ye m.icht hae gotten a waur fleg gin I hadna come up, 
for Mr. Beauchamp was takin' the bearin's o' ye throu' the 
window, and whan I gaed up, he slippit awa' like a wraith. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 203 

There ye lay, wi' yer held back, and yer mou' open, as gin 
you and the deid man had been tryin' whilk wad sleep the 
soun'est. But ye hae ta'en to ither studies sin' syne. Ye 
hae a fresh subjec' — a bonnie young ane. The Lord hae 
mercy upo' ye ! The goddess o' the rainbow hersel's gotten 
a baud o' ye, and ye'll be seein' naething but rainbows for 
years to come. Iris bigs bonnie brigs, but they hae now- 
ther pier, nor buttress, yor keystane, nor parapet. And no 
fit can gang ower them but her ain, and whan she steps aff, 
it's upo' men's herts, and yours can ill bide her fit, licht as 
it may be." 

" What are ye propheseein' at, Mr. Cupples ? " said Alec, 
who did not more than half understand him. 

" Verra weel. I'm no drunk yet," rejoined Mr. Cupples, 
oracularly. '' But that chield Beauchamp's no rainbow — 
that lat me tell ye. He'll do you a mischeef yet, gin ye 
dinna luik a' the shairper. I ken the breed o' him. He was 
luikin' at ye throu' the window like a hungry deevil. And 
jist min' what ye're aboot wi' the lassie — she's rael bonnie — 
or ye may chance to get her into trouble, withoot ony wyte 
{faulty o' yer ain. Min' I'm tellin' ye. Gin ye'll tak' my 
advice ye'll tak' a dose o' mathematics direckly. It's a fine 
alterative as weel as antidote, thou' maybe whusky's , . . 

. . the verra broo o' the deevil's ain pot," he concluded, 
altering his tone entirely, and swallowed the rest of his 
glass at a gulp. 

" What do ye want me to do ? " asked Alec. 

** To tak' tent {care) o' Beauchamp. And meantime to 
rin doon for yer Euclid and yer Hutton, and lat's see whaur 
ye are." 

There was more ground for Mr. Cupples's warning than 
Alec had the smallest idea of. He had concluded long ago 
that all possible relations, even those of enmity — practical 
enmity at least — were over between them, and that Mr. 
Beauchamp considered the bejan sufficiently punished for 
thrashing him, by being deprived of his condescending 
notice for the rest of the ages. But so far was this from 
being the true state of the case, that, although Alec never 
suspected it, Beauchamp had in fact been dogging and 
haunting him from the very commencement of the session, 
and Mr. Cupples had caught him in only one of many acts 
of the kind. In the anatomical class, where they continued 
to meet, he still attempted to keep up the old look of disdain, 
as if the lesson he had received had in no way altered their 



204 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

relative position. Had Alec known in what difficulty and 
under what a load of galling recollection he kept it up, he 
would have been heartily sorry for him. Beauchamp's 
whole consciousness was poisoned by the memory of that 
day. Incapable of regarding any one except in comparative 
relation to himself, the effort of his life had been to main- 
tain that feeling of superiority with which he started every 
new acquaintance ; for occasionally a flash of foreign 
individuality would break through the husk of satisfaction 
in which he had inclosed himself, compelling him to feel 
that another man might have claims. And hitherto he had 
been very successful in patching up and keeping entire his 
eggshell of conceit. But that affair with Alec was a very 
bad business. Had Beauchamp been a coward, he would 
have suffered less from it. But he was no coward, though 
not quite so courageous as Hector, who yet turned and fled 
before Achilles. Without the upholding sense of duty, no 
man can be sure of his own behavior, simply because he 
can not be sure of his own nerves. Duty kept the red-cross 
knight " forlorne and left to losse," " haplesse and eke 
hopelesse," 

" Disarmd, disgraste, and inwardly dismayde, 
And eke so faint in every joynt and vayne, 

from turning his back on the giant Orgoglio, and sent him 
pacing towards him with feeble steps instead. But although 
he was not wanting in mere animal courage, Beauchamp's 
pride always prevented him from engaging in any contest 
in which he was not sure of success, the thought of failure 
being to him unendurable. When he found that he had 
miscalculated the probabilities, he was instantly dismayed ; 
and the blow he received on his mouth reminding his vanity 
of the danger his handsome face was in, he dropped his 
arms and declined further contest, comforting himself with 
the fancy of postponing his vengeance to a better oppor- 
tunity. 

But within an hour he knew that he had lost his chance, 
as certainly as he who omits the flood-tide of his fortune. 
He not only saw that he was disgraced, but felt in himself 
that he had been cowardly ; and, more mortifying still, felt 
that, with respect to the clodhopper, he was cowardly now. 
He was afraid of him. Nor could he take refuge in the old 
satisfaction of despising him ; for that he found no longer 
possible. He was on the contrary compelled to despise 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 20$ 

himself, an experience altogether new ; so that his contempt 
for Alec changed into a fierce, slow-burning hate. 

Now hate keeps its object present even more than the 
opposite passion. Love makes every thing lovely ; hate 
concentrates itself on the one thing hated. The very sound 
of Alec's voice became to the ears of Beauchamp what a 
filthy potion would have been to his palate. Every line of 
his countenance became to his eyes what a disgusting odor 
would have been to his nostrils. And yet the fascination of 
his hate, and his desire of revenge, kept Beauchamp's ears, 
eyes and thoughts hovering about Forbes. 

No way of gratifying his hatred, however, although he 
had been brooding over it all the previous summer, had 
presented itself till now. Now he saw the possibility of 
working a dear revenge. But even now, to work surely, he 
must delay long. Still the present consolation was great. 

Nor is it wonderful that his pride should not protect him 
from the deeper disgrace of walking in underground ways. 
For there is nothing in the worship of self to teach a man 
to be noble. Honor even will one day fail him who has 
learned no higher principle. And although revenge be " a 
kind of wild justice," it loses the justice and retains only 
the wildness when it corrupts into hatred. Every feeling 
that Beauchamp had was swallowed up in the gulf eaten 
away by that worst of all canker-worms. 

Notwithstanding the humiliation he had experienced, he 
retained as 5^et an unlimited confidence in some gifts which 
he supposed himself to possess by nature, and to be capable 
of using with unequaled art. And true hate, as well as true 
love, knows how to wait. 



CHAPTER XLIV. 



In the course of her study of Milton, Annie had come 
upon Samson's lamentation over his blindness ; and had 
found, soon after, the passage in which Milton, in his own 
person, bewails the loss of light. The thought that she 
would read them to Tibbie Dyster was a natural one. She 
borrowed the volumes from Mrs. Forbes ; and, the next 



2o6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

evening, made her way to Tibbie's cottage, where she was 
welcomed as usual by her gruff voice of gratefulness. 

" Ye're a gude bairn to come a' this gait through the 
snaw to see an auld blin' body like me. It's dingin' on 
{snowing or raining) — is na 't, bairn ? " 

" Ay is't. Hoo do ye ken, Tibbie ? " 

" I dinna ken hoo I ken. I was na sure. The snaw mak's 
unco little din, ye see. It comes doon like the speerit him- 
sel' upo' quaiet herts." 

" Did ye ever see, Tibbie ? " asked Annie, after a pause. 

" Na ; nae that I min' upo'. I was but twa year auld, 
my mither used to tell fowk, whan I had the pock, an' it jist 
closed up my een forever — i' this warl, ye ken. I s' see 
some day as weel's ony o' ye, lass." 

" Do ye ken what licht is, Tibbie ? " said Annie, whom 
Milton had set meditating on Tibbie's physical in relation 
to her mental condition. 

" Ay, weel eneuch," answered Tibbie, with a touch of 
indignation at the imputed ignorance. " What for no ? 
What gars ye spier ? " 

" Ow ! I jist wanted to ken." 

" Hoo could I no ken ? Disna the Saviour say : * I am 
the licht o' the warl ' ? — He that walketh in Him maun ken 
what licht is, lassie. Syne ye hae the licht in yersel' — in yer 
ain hert ; an' ye maun ken what it is. Ye cannamistak' it." 

Annie was neither able nor willing to enter into an argu- 
ment on the matter, although she was not satisfied. She 
would rather think than dispute about it. So she changed 
the subject in a measure. 

" Did ye ever hear o' John Milton, Tibbie ? " she asked. 

" Ow ! ay. He was blin' like mysel', wasna he ? " 

" Ay, was he. I hae been readin' a heap o' his poetry." 

" Eh ! I wad richt weel like to hear a bittie o' 't." 

** Weel, here's a bit 'at he made as gin Samson was sayin' 
o' 't, till himsel' like, efter they had pitten oot's een — the 
Phillisteens, ye ken." 

" Ay, I ken weel eneuch. Read it," 

Annie read the well-known passage. Tibbie listened to 
the end, without word of remark or question, her face 
turned towards the reader, and her sightless balls rolling 
under their closed lids. When Annie's voice ceased, she 
said, after a little reflection : 

" Ay ! ay ! It's bonnie, an' verra true. And, puir man J 
it was waur for him nor for me and Milton ; for it was a' his 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 207 

ain wyte ; and it was no to be expecket he cud be sae quaiet 
as anither. But he had no richt to question the ways o' the 
Maker. But it's bonnie, rael bonnie." 

" Noo, I'll just read to ye what Milton says aboot his ain 
blin'ness. But it's some ill to unnerstan'." 

" Maybe I'll unnerstan' 't better nor you, bairn. Read 
awa*." 

So admonished, Annie read. Tibbie fidgeted about or. 
her seat. It was impossible either should understand it. 
And the proper names were a great puzzle to them. 

" Tammy Riss ! " said Tibbie ; " I ken naething aboot 
hun." 

" Na, neither do I," said Annie ; and beginning the line 
again, she blundered over " blind Maeonidcs." 

" Ye're readin' 't wrang, bairn. It sud be ' nae ony\ days,' 
for there's nae days or nichts either to the blin'. They 
dinna ken the differ, ye see." 

" I'm readin' 't as I hae't," answered Annie. " It's a 
muckle M." 

" I ken naething aboot yer muckle or yer little Ms," 
retorted Tibbie, with indignation. " Gin that binna what it 
means, it's ayont me. Read awa'. Maybe we'll come to 
something better." 

" Ay will we ! " said Annie, and resumed. 

With the words, " Thus with the year seasons return" Tib- 
bie's attention grew fixed ; and when the reader came to 
the passage, 

" So much the rather thou, Celestial Light, 
Shine inward," 

her attention rose into rapture. 

" Ay, ay, lassie ! That man kent a' aboot it ! He wad 
never hae speired gin a blin' crater like me kent what the 
licht was. He kent what it was weel. Ay did he ! " 

" But, ye see, he was a gey auld man afore he tint his 
eesicht," Annie ventured to interpose. 

" Sae muckle the better ! He kent baith kinds. And he 
kent that the sicht without the een is better nor the sicht o' 
the een. Fowk nae doobt has baith ; but I think whiles 'at 
the Lord gies a grainy mair o' the inside licht to mak' up for 
the loss o' the ootside ; and weel I wat it doesna want muckle 
to do that." 

" But ye dinna ken what it is," objected Annie, with un- 
necessary persistency in the truth. 



2o8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Do ye tell me that again ? " returned Tibbie, harshly. 
" Ye'U anger me, bairn. Gin ye kent hoo I lie awauk at 
nicht, no able to sleep for thinkin* 'at the day will come 
whan I'll see — wi' my ain open een — the verra face o' him 
that bore oor griefs an' carried oor sorrows, till I jistlieand 
greit, for verra wissin', ye wadna say 'at I dinna ken what 
the sicht o' a body's een is. Sae nae mair o' that ! I beg o' 
ye, or I'll jist need to gang to my prayers to haud me ohn 
been angry wi' ane o' the Lord's bairns ; for that ye are, I 
do believe, Annie Anderson. Ye canna ken what blin'ness 
is ; but I doobt ye ken what the licht is, lassie ; and for the 
lave (resl), jist ye lippen {trust) to John Milton and me." 

Annie dared not say another word. She sat silent — per- 
haps rebuked. But Tibbie resumed : 

" Ye mauna think, hooever, 'cause sic longin' thouchts 
come ower me, that I gang aboot the hoose girnin' and com- 
pleenin' that I canna open the door and win oot. Na, na. I 
could jist despise the licht, whiles, that ye mak' sic a wark 
aboot, and sing and shout, as the Psalmist says ; for I'm jist 
that glaid, that I dinna ken hoo to haud it in. For the Lord's 
my frien', I can jist tell him a' that comes into my puir blin' 
held. Ye see there's ither ways for thinks to come intil a 
body's held. There's mair doors nor the een. There's back 
doors, whiles, that lat ye oot to the bonnie gairden, and tha's 
better nor the road side. And the smell o' the braw flooers 
comes in at the back winnocks, ye ken. Whilko' the bonnie 
flooers do ye think likest Him, Annie Anderson ?" 

*' Eh, I dinna ken, Tibbie. I'm thinkin' they maun be a' 
like Him." 

" Ay, ay, nae doobt. But some o' them may be liker Him 
nor ithers." 

" Weel, whilk do jjr think likest him, Tibbie ? " 

" I think it maun be the minnonette — sae clean and sae 
fine and sae weel content." 

" Ay, ye're speikin' by the smell, Tibbie. But gin ye saw 
the rose — " 

" Hoots ! I hae seen the rose mony a time. Nae doobt 
it's bonnier to luik at — " and here her fingers went moving 
about as if they were feeling the full-blown sphere of a rose — 
" but I think, for my pairt, that the minnonette's likest Him." 

" May be," was all Annie's reply, and Tibbie went on. 

" There maun be faces liker Him nor ithers. Come here, 
Annie, and let me fin {feet) whether ye be like Him or no." 

'* Hoo can ye ken that ? — ye never saw Him." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 209 

" Never saw Him ! I hae seen Him ower and ower again. 
I see Him whan I like. Come here, I say," 

Annie went and kneeled down beside her, and the blind 
woman passed her questioning fingers in solemn silence over 
and over the features of the child. At length, with her hands 
still resting upon Annie's head, she uttered her judg- 
ment. 

" Ay. Some like him, nae doot. But she'll be a heap liker 
Him when she sees Him as He is." 

When a Christian proceeds to determine the rightness of 
his neighbor by his apprcximation to his fluctuating ideal, 
it were well if the judgment were tempered by such love as 
guided the hands of blind Tibbie over the face of Annie in 
their attempt to discover whether or not she was like the 
Christ of her visions. 

" Do ye think jv^'re like Him, Tibbie ? " said Annie, with 
a smile, which Tibbie at once detected in the tone. 

" Hoots, bairn. I had the pock dreidfu', ye ken." 

" Weel, maybe we a' hae had something or ither that 
bauds us ohn been sae bonny as we micht hae been. For 
ae thing, there's the guilt o' Adam's first sin, ye ken." 

" Verra richt, bairn. Nae doot that's blaudit mony a face 
— ' the want o' original richteousness and the corruption o' 
our whole natur'.' The wonner is that we're like Him at a'. 
But we maun be like Him, for He was a man born o' a wum- 
man.' Think o' that, lass !" 

At this moment the latch of the door was lifted, and in 
walked Robert Bruce. He gave a stare when he saw Annie, 
for he thought her out of the way at Howglen, and said in 
a tone of asperity, 

" Ye're a' gait at ance, Annie Anderson. A doonricht 
rintheroot ! " 

" Lat the bairn be, Maister Bruce," said Tibbie. " She's 
doin' the Lord's will, whether ye may think it or no. She's 
visitin' them 'at's i' the prison-hoose o' the dark. She's min- 
isterin' to them 'at hae mony preevileges nae doot, but hae 
room for mair." 

" I'm no saying naething," said Bruce. 

" Ye are sayin'. Ye're offendin' ane o' His little anes. 
Tak' ye tent o' the millstane." 

" Hoot, toot, Tibbie. I was only wissin' 'at she wad keep 
a sma' part o' her ministrations for her ain hame and her 
ain fowk 'at has the ministerin' to her. There's the mistress 
and me jist mairtyrs to that chop ! And there's the bit 



2IO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

infant in want o' some ministration noo and than, gin that be 
what ye ca' 't." 

A grim compression of the mouth was all Tibbie's re- 
ply. She did not choose to tell Robert Bruce that although 
she was blind — and probably because she was blind — she 
heard rather more gossip than any body else in Glamerton, 
and that consequently his appeal to her sympathy had no 
effect upon her. Finding she made no answer, Bruce turned 
to Annie. 

" Noo, Annie," said he, " ye're nae wantit here ony langer. 
I hae a word or twa to say to Tibbie. Gang hame and learn 
yer lessons for the morn." 

" It's Setterday nicht," answered Annie. 

" But ye hae yer lessons to learn for the Mononday." 

" Ow, ay ! But I hae a bulk or twa to tak' hame to Mis- 
tress Forbes, and I daursay I'll bide and come to the kirk 
wi' her i' the mornin'." 

Now, although all that Bruce wanted was to get rid of 
her, he went on to oppose her, for common-minded people 
always feel that they give the enemy an advantage if they 
show themselves content. 

" It's no safe to rin aboot i' the mirk {dark). It's dingin' 
on forbye. Ye'U be a' wat, and maybe fa' into the dam. 
Ye couldna see yer han' afore yer face — ance oot o' the 
toon." 

" I ken the road to Mistress Forbes's as weel's the road 
up your garret-stairs, Mr. Bruce." 

" Ow nae doobt ! " he answered, with a sneering acerbity 
peculiar to him, in which his voice seemed sharpened and 
concentrated to a point by the contraction of his lips. 
" And there's tykes aboot," he added, remembering Annie's 
fear of dogs. 

But by this time Annie, gentle as she was, had got a little 
angry. 

" The Lord'll tak' care o' me frae the dark and the tykes, 
and the lave o' ye, Mr. Bruce," she said. 

And bidding Tibbie good night, she took up her books 
and departed to wade through the dark and the snow, 
trembling lest some unseen tyke should lay hold of her as 
she went. 

As soon as she was gone, Bruce proceeded to make him- 
self agreeable to Tibbie by retailing all the bits of gossip he 
could think of. While thus engaged he kept peering earn- 
estly about the room from door to chimney, turning his 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 211 

head on every side, and surveying as he turned it. Even 
Tibbie perceived, from the changes in the sound of his voice, 
that he was thus occupied. 

" Sae your auld landlord's deid, Tibbie ? " he said at last. 

" Ay, honest man ! He had aye a kin' word for a poor 
body." 

" Ay, ay, nae doobt. But what would ye say gin I tell't 
ye that I had boucht the bit hoosie, an was yer new land- 
lord, Tibbie ? " 

" I wad say that the door-sill wants men'in', to haud the 
snaw oot ; and the bit hoosie's sair in want o' new thack. 
The verra cupples'U be rottit awa' or lang." 

" Weel, that's verra rizzonable, nae doobt, gin a' be as ye 
say." 

" Be as I say, Robert Bruce ? " 

" Ay, ay ; ye see ye're nae a'thegither like ither fowk, I 
dinna mean ony offense, ye ken, Tibbie ; but ye haena the 
sicht o' yer een." 

" Maybe I haena the feelin' o' my auld banes, aither, 
Maister Bruce ? Maybe I'm ower blin' to hae the rheum- 
atize, or to smell the auld weet thack when there's been a 
scatterin' o' snaw or a drappy o' rain o' the riggin' ! " 

" I didna want to anger ye, Tibbie. A' that ye say de- 
serves attention. It would be a shame to lat an auld body 
like you — " 

" No that auld, Maister Bruce, gin ye kent the trowth." 

" Weel, ye're no ower young to need to beta'en guid care 
o' — are ye, Tibbie ? " 

Tibbie grunted. 

" Weel, to come to the pint. There's nae doobt thehoose 
wants a hantle o' doctorin'." 

" Deed does't," interposed Tibbie. " It'll want a new 
door. Forbye 'at the door's maist as wide as twa ordinar 
doors. It was ance in twa halves, like a chop-door ; and 
they're ill jined thegither, and the win' comes throu like a 
knife, and maist cuts a body in twa. Ye see the bit hoosie 
was ance the dyer's dryin' hoose afore he gaed further doon 
the watter." 

" Nae doobt ye're richt, Tibbie. But seein' that I maun 
lay oot sae muckle, I'll be compelled to pit anither thrip- 
pence on to the rent." 

" Ither thrippence, Robert Bruce ! That's three thrip- 
pences i' the ook in place of twa. That's an unco rise ! Ye 
canna mean what ye say ! It's a' that I'm able to do to pay 



212 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

my saxpence. An auld blin' body like me disna fa' in wi' 
saxpences whan she gangs luikin aboot wi' her lang fingers 
for a pirn or a prin that she's looten fa'." 

" But ye do a heap o' spinnin', Tibbie, wi' thae lang fin- 
gers. There's naebody in Glamerton spins like ye." 

'' Maybe ay and maybe no. It's no muckle that that 
comes till. I wadna spin sae weel gin it warna that the 
Almichty pat some sicht into the pints o' my fingers, 'cause 
there was nane left i' my een. An' gin ye make ither thrip- 
pence a week oot o' that, ye'll be turnin' the wather that He 
sent to ca my mill into your dam ; an' I doot it'll play ill 
water wi' your wheels." 

" Hoot, hoot ! Tibbie, woman ! It gangs sair against me 
to appear to be hard-hertit." 

" I hae nae doobt. Ye dinna want to appear sae. But 
do ye ken that I mak' sae little by the spinnin' ye mak' sae 
muckle o', that the kirk alloos me a shillin' i' the week to 
mak' up wi' ? And gin it warna for kin' frien's, it's an ill 
livin' I wad hae in dour weather like this. Dinna ye imaigine, 
Mr. Bruce, that I hae a pose o' my ain. I hae naething ava, 
excep* sevenpence in a stockin'-fit. And it wad hae to come 
aff o' my tay or something ither 'at I wad ill miss." 

" Weel, that may be a' verra true," rejoined Bruce ; "but 
a body maun hae their ain for a' that. Wadna the kirk gie 
ye the ither thrippence ? " 

" Do ye think I wad tak' frae the kirk to pit into your 
till ? " 

" Weel, say saivenpence, than, and we'll be quits." 

" I tell ye what, Robert Bruce : raither nor pay ye one 
bawbee more nor the saxpence, I'll turn oot i' the snaw, and 
lat the Lord luik efter me." 

Robert Bruce went away, and did not purchase the cot- 
tage, which was in the market at a low price. He had 
intended Tibbie to believe, as she did, that he had already 
bought it ; and if she had agreed to pay even the seven- 
pence, he would have gone from her to secure it. 

On her way to Howglen, Annie pondered on the delight 
of Tibbie — Tibbie Dyster who had never seen the " human 
face divine " — when she should see the face of Jesus Christ, 
most likely the first face she would see. Then she turnetl 
to what Tibbie had said about knowing light from knowing 
the Saviour. There must be some connection between what 
Tibbie said and what Thomas had said about the face of 
God. There was a text that said " God is light, and in him 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 213 

is no darkness at all." So she was sure that the light that 
was in a Christian, whatever it meant, must come from the 
face of God. And so what Thomas said and what Tibbie 
said might be only different ways of saying the same thing. 

Thus she was in a measure saved from the perplexity 
which comes of any one definition of the holy secret, compel- 
ling a man to walk in a way between walls, instead of in a 
path across open fields. 

There was no day yet in which Annie did not think of her 
old champion with the same feeling of devotion which his 
championship had first aroused, although all her necessities, 
hopes and fears were now beyond any assistance he could 
render. She was far on in a new path : he was loitering 
behind, out of hearing. He would not have dared to call 
her solicitude nonsense ; but he would have set down all 
such matters as belonging to women, rather than youths 
beginning the world. The lessons of Thomas Crann were 
not despised, for he never thought about them. He began 
to look down upon all his past, and, in it, upon his old com- 
panions. Since knowing Kate, who had more delicate 
habits and ways than he had ever seen, he had begun to 
refine his own modes concerning outside things ; and in his 
anxiety to be like her, while he became more polished, he 
became less genial and wide-hearted. 

But none of his old friends forgot him. I believe not a 
day passed in which Thomas did not pray for him in secret, 
naming him by his name, and lingering over it mournfully — 
" Alexander Forbes — the young man that I thocht wad hae 
been pluckit frae the burnin' afore noo. But thy time's the 
best, O Lord. It's a' thy wark ; an' there's no good thing 
in us. And thou canst turn the hert o' man as the rivers o' 
water. And maybe thou hast gi'en him grace to repent 
already, though I ken naething aboot it." 



CHAPTER XLV. 



This had been a sore winter for Thomas, and he had had 
plenty of leisure for prayer. For, having gone up on a 
scaffold one day to see that the wall he was building was 
properly protected from the rain, he slipped his foot on a 



214 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

wet pole, and fell to the ground, whence, being a heavy man, 
he was lifted terribly shaken, besides having one of his legs 
broken. Not a moan escaped him — a murmur was out of 
the question. They carried him home, and the surgeon did 
his best for him. Nor, although few people liked him much, 
was he left unvisited in his sickness. The members of his 
own religious community recognized their obligation to 
minister to him ; and they would have done more, had they 
guessed how poor he was. Nobody knew how much he 
gave away in other directions ; but they judged of his means 
by the amount he was in the habit of putting into the plate 
at the chapel-door every Sunday. There was never much 
of the silvery shine to be seen in the heap of copper, but 
one of the gleaming sixpences was almost sure to have 
dropped from the hand of Thomas Crann. Not that this 
generosity sprung altogether from disinterested motives ; 
for the fact was, that he had a morbid fear of avarice ; a fear 
I believe not altogether groundless ; for he was independ- 
ent in his feelings almost to fierceness — certainly to ungra- 
ciousness ; and this strengthened a natural tendency to saving 
and hoarding. The consciousness of this tendency drove 
him to the other extreme. Jean, having overheard him 
once cry out in an agony, " Lord, hae mercy upo' me, and 
deliver me frae this love o' money, which is the root of all 
evil," watched him in the lobby of the chapel the next Sun- 
day — "and as sure's deith," said Jean — an expression which 
it was well for her that Thomas did not hear — " he pat a 
siller shillin' into the plate that day, mornin' arC nicht." 

" Tak' care hoo ye affront him, whan ye tak' it," said 
Andrew Constable to his wife, who was setting out to carry 
him some dish of her own cooking — for Andrew's wife 
belonged to the missionars — " for weel ye ken Thamas 
likes to be unner obligation to nane but the Lord himsel'." 

" Lea' ye that to me, Anerew, my man. You 'at's rouch 
men disna ken hoo to do a thing o' that sort. I s' manage 
Thamas weel eneuch. I ken the nater o' him." 

And sure enough he ate it up at once, that she might take 
the dish back with her. 

Annie went every day to ask after him, and every day 
had a kind reception from Jean, who bore her no grudge for 
the ignominious treatment of Thomas on that evening mem- 
orable to Annie. At length, one day, after many weeks, 
Jean asked her if she would not like to see him. 

"Ay wad I ; richt weel," answered she. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 215 

Jean led her at once into Thomas's room, where he lay in 
a bed in the wall. He held out his hand. Annie could 
hardly be said to take it, but she put hers into it, saying 
timidly, 

" Is yer leg verra sair, Thomas ? " 

" Ow na, dawtie ; nae noo. The Lord's been verra mer- 
cifu' — jist like himsel'. It was ill to bide for a while 
whan I cudna sleep. But I jist sleep noo like ane o' the 
beloved." 

" I was richt sorry for ye, Thamas." 

" Ay. Ye've a kin' hert, lassie. And I canna help thinkin' 
— they may say what they like — but I canna help thinkin' 
that the Lord was sorry for me himsel'. It cam' into my 
held as I lay here ae nicht, an' cudna sleep a wink, and 
cudna rist, and yet daurna muv for my broken hough. And 
as sune's that cam' into my held I was sae upliftit, 'at I for- 
got a' aboot my leg, and begud, or ever I kent, to sing the 
hunner and saivent psalm. And syne whan the pain cam' 
back wi' a terrible stoon, I jist amaist leuch ; an' I thoucht 
that gin he wad brack me a' to bits, I wad never cry haudy 
nor turn my finger to gar him stent. Noo, ye're ane o' the 
Lord's bairns — " 

'* Eh ! I dinna ken," cried Annie, half-terrified at such an 
assurance from Thomas, and the responsibility devolved on 
her thereby, and yet delighted beyond expression. 

" Ay are ye," continued Thomas confidently ; " and I 
want to ken what ye think aboot it. Do ye think it was a 
wrang thocht to come into my held ? " 

" Hoo could that be, Thomas, whan it set ye a singin' — 
and sic a psalm — ' O that men would praise the Lord for his 
goodness ' ? " 

" The Lord be praised ance mair ! " exclaimed Thomas. 
" * Oot o' the mooth o' babes and sucklin's ! ' — no that ye're 
jist that, Annie, but ye're no muckle mair. Sit ye doon 
aside me, and rax ower to the Bible, and jist read that 
hunner and saivent psalm. Eh, lassie ! but the Lord isguid. 
Oh ! that men wad praise him ! An' to care for the 
praises o' sic worms as me ! What richt hae I to praise 
him? " 

" Ye hae the best richt, Thomas, for hesna he been good 
to ye ? " 

" Ye're richt, lassie, ye're richt. It's wonnerfu' the com- 
mon sense o* bairns. Gin ye wad jist lat the Lord instruck 
them ! I doot we mak' ower little o' them. Nae doobt 



2l6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

they're born in sin, and brocht furth in iniquity ; but gin 
they repent ear', they win far aheid o' the auld fowk." 

Thomas's sufferings had made him more gentle — and 
more sure of Annie's election. He was one on whom afflic- 
tion was not thrown away. — Annie saw him often after this, 
and he never let her go without reading a chapter to him, 
his remarks upon which were always of some use to her, 
notwithstanding the limited capacity and formal shape of 
the doctrinal molds in which they were cast ; for wherever 
there is genuine religious feeling and experience, it will now 
and then crack the prisoning pitcher, and let some brilliant 
ray of the indwelling glory out, to discomfit the beleaguer- 
ing hosts of troublous thoughts. 

Although the framework of Thomas was roughly hewn, 
he had always been subject to such fluctuations of feeling as 
are more commonly found amongst religious women. Some- 
times, notwithstanding the vision of the face of God " vouch- 
safed to him from the mercy-seat," as he would say, he 
would fall into fits of doubting whether he was indeed one 
of the elect ; for how then could he be so hard-hearted, and 
so barren of good thoughts and feelings as he found him- 
self ? At such times he was subject to an irritation of 
temper, alternately the cause and effect of his misery, upon 
which, with all his efforts, he was only capable yet of put- 
ting a very partial check. Woe to the person who should 
then dare to interrupt his devotions ! If Jean, who had no 
foresight or anticipation of consequences, should, urged by 
some supposed necessity of the case, call to him through 
the door bolted against Time and its concerns, the saint who 
had been kneeling before God in utter abasement, self-con- 
tempt and wretchedness, would suddenly wrench it open, a 
wrathful, indignant man, boiling brimful of angry words 
and unkind objurgations through all which would be mani- 
fest, notwithstanding, a certain unhappy restraint. Having 
driven the enemy away in confusion, he would bolt his door 
again, and return to his prayers in two-fold misery, con- 
scious of guilt increased by unrighteous anger, and so 
of yet another wall of separation raised between him and 
God. 

Now this weakness all but disappeared during the worst 
of his illness, to return for a season with increased force 
when his recovery had advanced so far as to admit of his 
getting out of bed. Children are almost always cross when 
recovering from an illness, however patient they may have 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 217 

been during its severest moments ; and the phenomenon is 
not by any means confined to children. 

A deacon of the church, a worthy little weaver, had been 
half-officially appointed to visit Thomas, and find out, which 
was not an easy task, if he was in want of any thing. When 
he arrived, Jean was out. He lifted the latch, entered, and 
tapped gently at Thomas's door — too gently, for he received 
no ansv/er. With hasty yet hesitating imprudence, he 
opened the door and peeped in. Thomas was upon his 
knees by the fire-side, with his plaid over his head. Startled 
by the weaver's entrance, he raised his head, and his rugged 
leonine face, red with wrath, glared out of the thicket of his 
plaid upon the intruder. He did not rise, for that would 
have been a task requiring time and caution. But he cried 
aloud in a hoarse voice, with his two hands leaning on the 
chair, like the paws of some fierce rampant animal : 

" Jeames, ye're takin' the pairt o' Sawton upo' ye, drivin' 
a man frae his prayers ! " 

*' Hoot, Thamas ! I beg yer pardon," answered the 
weaver, rather flurried ; *' I thoucht ye micht hae been 
asleep." 

" Ye had no business to think for yersel' in sic a maitter. 
What do ye want ? " 

" I jist cam' to see whether je war in want o' ony thing, 
Thomas." 

" I'm in want o' naething. Gude nicht to ye." 

" But, railly, Thamas," expostulated the weaver, embold- 
ened by his own kindness — " ye'U excuse me, but ye hae nae 
business to gang doon on yer knees wi' yer leg in sic a weyk 
condeetion." 

" I winna excuse ye, Jeames. What ken ye aboot my leg? 
And what's the use o' knees, but to gang doon upo' ? Gang 
hame, and gang doon upo' yer ain, Jeames ; and dinna 
disturb ither fowk that ken what theirs was made for." 

Thus admonished, the weaver dared not linger. As he 
turned to shut the door, he wished the mason good night, 
but received no answer. Thomas had sunk forward upon 
the chair, and had already drawn his plaid over his head. 

But the sacred place of the Most High will not be entered 
after this fashion ; and Thomas felt that he was shut out. 
It is not by driving away our brother that we can be alone 
with God. Thomas's plaid could not isolate him with his 
Maker, for communion with God is never isolation. In such 
a mood, the chamber with the shut door shuts out God too, 



2l8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

and one is left alone with himself, which is the outer dark- 
ness. The love of the brethren opens the door into God's 
chamber, which is within ours. So Thomas — who was far 
enough from hating his brother, who would have struggled 
to his feet and limped to do him a service, though he would 
not have held out his hand to receive one, for he was only- 
good, not gracious — Thomas, I say, felt worse than ever, 
and more as if God had forgotten him, than he had felt for 
many a day. He kneeled still and sighed sore. 

At length another knock came, which although very gen- 
tle, he heard and knew well enough. 

** Who's there ? " he asked, notwithstanding, with a fresh 
access of indignant feeling. 

" Annie Anderson," was the answer through the door, in 
a tone which at once soothed the ruffled waters of Thomas's 
spirit. 

" Come in," he said. 

She entered, quiet as a ghost. 

" Come awa', Annie. I'm glaid to see ye. Jist come and 
kneel doon aside me, and we'll pray thegither, for I'm sair 
troubled wi' an ill-temper." 

Without a word of reply, Annie kneeled by the side of his 
chair. Thomas drew the plaid over her head, took her hand, 
which was swallowed up in his, and after a solemn pause, 
spoke thus : 

" O Lord, wha dwellest in the licht inaccessible, whom 
mortal eye hath not seen nor can see, but who dwellest with 
him that is humble and contrite of heart, and liftest the 
licht o' thy coontenance upo' them that seek it, O Lord," — 
here the solemnity of the appeal gave way before the out- 
bursting agony of Thomas's heart — " O Lord, dinna lat's cry 
in vain, this thy lammie, and me, thine auld sinner, but, for 
the sake o' Him wha did no sin, forgive my sins and my vile 
temper, and help me to love my neighbor as mysel'. Lat 
Christ dwell in me and syne I shall be meek and lowly of 
heart like Him. Put thy speerit in me, and syne I shall do 
richt — no frae mysel', for I hae no good thing in me, but 
frae thy speerit that dwelleth in us." 

After this prayer, Thomas felt refreshed and hopeful. With 
slow labor he rose from his knees at last, and sinking into his 
chair, drew Annie toward him, and kissed her. Then he said, 

" Will ye gang a bit eeran' for me, Annie ? " 

" That I will, Thomas. I wad rin mysel' aff o' my legs 
for ye." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 219 

" Na, na. I dinna want sae muekle rinnin' the nicht. But 
I wad be sair obleeged to ye gin ye wad jist rin doon to 
Jeames Johnstone, the weyver, and tell him, wi' my coampli- 
ments, ye ken, that I'm verra sorry I spak' till him as I did 
the nicht ; and I wad tak' it richt kin' o' him gin he wad 
come and tak a cup o' tay wi' me the morn's nicht, and we 
cud hae a crack thegither, and syne we cud hae worship the- 
gither. And tell him he maunna think nae mair o' the way 
I spak' till him, for I was troubled i' my min', and I'm an 
ill-nater'd man." 

" I'll tell him a' that ye say," answered Annie, " as weel's 
I can min' 't ; and I s' warran' I s' no forget muekle o' 't. 
Wad ye like me to come back the nicht and tell ye what he 
says ? " 

" Na, na, lassie. It'll be nearhan' time for ye to gang to 
yer bed. And it's a cauld nicht. I ken that by my leg. And 
ye see Jeames Johnstone's no an ill-nater'd man like me. 
He's a douce man, and he's sure to be weel-pleased and 
come till's tay. Na, na ; ye needna come back. Guid nicht 
to ye, my dawtie. The Lord bless ye for comin to pray wi' 
an ill-nater'd man." 

Annie sped upon her mission of love through the murky 
streets and lanes of Glamerton, as certainly a divine mes- 
senger as any seraph crossing the blue empyrean upon level 
wing. And if any one should take exception to this, on the 
ground that she sought her own service and neglected home 
duties, I would, although my object has not been to set her 
forth as an exemplar, take the opportunity of asking 
whether to sleep in a certain house and be at liberty to take 
one's meals there, be sufficient to make it home, and the 
source of home-obligations — to indicate the will of God as 
to the region of one's labor, other regions lying open at the 
same time. Ought Annie to have given her aid as a child 
where there was no parental recognition of the relationship 
— an aid whose value in the eyes of the Bruces would have 
consisted in the leisure it gave to Mrs. Bruce for ministering 
more devotedly in the temple of Mammon ? I put the ques- 
tion, not quite sure what the answer ought to be. 



CHAPTER XLVI. 

Now that Kate had got a companion, Alec never saw her 
alone. But he had so much the better opportunity of know- 
ing her. Miss Warner was a nice, open-eyed, fair-faced 
EngUsh girl, with pleasant manners and plenty of speech ; 
and although more shy than Kate — English girls being 
generally more shy than Scotch girls — was yet ready 
enough to take her share in conversation. Between the 
two, Alec soon learned how ignorant he was in the things 
that most interest girls. Classics and mathematics were 
not very interesting to himself, and anatomy was not avail- 
able. He soon perceived that they were both fond of 
poetry ; but if it was not the best poetry, he was incapable 
of telling them so, although the few lessons he had had 
were from a better mistress than either of them, and with 
some better examples than they had learned to rejoice in. 

The two girls had got hold of some volumes of Byron, 
and had read them together at school, chiefly after retiring 
to the chamber they shared together. The consequences 
were an unbounded admiration and a facility of reference, 
with the use of emotional adjectives. Alec did not know a 
single poem of that writer, except the one about the 
Assyrian coming down like a wolf on the fold. 

Determined, however, not to remain incapable of sympa- 
thizing with them, he got copies of the various poems from 
the library of the college, and for days studied Byron and 
anatomy — nothing else. Like all other young men, he was 
absorbed, entranced with the poems. Childe Harold he 
could not read, but the tales were one fairy region after 
another. Their power over young people is remarkable, 
but not more remarkable than the fact that they almost 
invariably lose this power over the individual, while they 
have as yet retained it over the race ; for of all the multi- 
tude which does homage at the shrine of the poet few linger 
long, and fewer still, after the turmoil of life has yielded 
room for thought, renew their homage. Most of those who 
make the attempt are surprised — some of them troubled — 
at the discovery that the shrine can work miracles no more. 
The Byron-fever is in fact a disease belonging to youth, 
as the whooping-cough to childhood, — working some occult 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 221 

good no doubt in the end. It has its origin, perhaps, in 
the fact that the poet makes no demand either on the intel- 
lect or the conscience, but confines himself to friendly inter- 
course with those passions whose birth long precedes that 
of choice in their objects — whence a wealth of emotion is 
squandered. It is long before we discover that far richer 
feeling is the result of a regard bent on the profound and 
the pure. 

Hence the chief harm the poems did Alec, consisted in 
the rousing of his strongest feelings towards imaginary 
objects of inferior excellence, with the necessary result of a 
tendency to measure the worth of the passions themselves 
by their strength alone, and not by their character — by their 
degree, and not by their kind. That they were the forge- 
bellows, supplying the blast of the imagination to the fire of 
love in which his life had begun to be modeled, is not to be 
counted among their injurious influences. 

He had never hitherto meddled with his own thoughts or 
feelings — had lived an external life to the most of his 
ability. Now, through falling in love, and reading Byron, 
he began to know the existence of a world of feeling, if not 
of thought ; while his attempts at conversation with the 
girls had a condensing if not crystallizing influence upon the 
merely vaporous sensations which the poetry produced. 
All that was wanted to give full force to the other influences 
in adding its own, was the presence of the sultry evenings 
of summer, with the thunder gathering in the dusky air. 
The cold days and nights of winter were now swathing that 
brain, through whose aerial regions the clouds of passion, 
driven on many shifting and opposing winds, were hurrying 
along to meet in human thunder and human rain. 

I will not weary my readers with the talk of three young 
people enamored of Byron. Of course the feelings the girls 
had about him differed materially from those of Alec ; so 
that a great many of the replies and utterances met like 
unskillful tilters, whose staves passed wide. In neither was 
the admiration much more than an easy delight in the vivid 
though indistinct images of pleasure raised by the magic of 
that " physical force of words " in which Byron excels all 
other English poets, and in virtue of which, I presume, the 
French persist in regarding Byron as our greatest poet, and 
in supposing that we agree with them. 

Alec gained considerably with Kate from becoming able 
to talk about her favorite author, while she appeared to him 



222 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

more beautiful than ever — the changes in the conversation 
constantly bringing out new phases on her changeful coun- 
tenance. He began to discover now what I have already 
ventured to call \h^ fluidity of her expression ; for he was 
almost startled every time he saw her, by finding her differ- 
ent from what he had expected to find her. Jean Paul 
somewhere makes a lamentation over the fact that girls will 
never meet you in the morning with the same friendliness 
with which they parted from you the night before. But 
this was not the kind of change Alec found. She behaved 
with perfect evenness to him, but always looked different, so 
that he felt as if he could never know her quite — which was 
a just conclusion, and might have been arrived at upon less 
remarkable though more important grounds. Occasionally 
he would read something of Byron's ; and it was a delight to 
him such as he had never known before, to see Kate's 
strangely beautiful eyes flash with actually visible fire as he 
read, or cloud over with mist and fill slowly with the dew of 
feeling. No doubt he took more of the credit than 
belonged to him — which was greedy, seeing poor Byron 
had none of the pleasure. 

Had it not been for the help Mr. Cupples gave him 
toward the end of the session, he would have made a poor 
figure both in Greek and mathematics. But he was so filled 
with the phantasm of Kate Fraser, that, although not insen- 
sible of his obligation to Mr. Cupples, he regarded it lightly ; 
and, ready to give his life for a smile from Kate, took all 
his kindness, along with his drunken wisdom, as a matter 
of course. 

And when he next saw Annie and Curly, he did not 
speak to them quite so heartily as on his former return. 



CHAPTER XLVn. 



In one or two of his letters, which were never very long, 
Alec had just mentioned Kate ; and now Mrs. Forbes had 
many inquiries to make about her. Old feelings and 
thoughts awoke in her mind, and made her wish to see the 
daughter of her old companion. The absence of Annie, 
banished once more at the suggestion of worldly prudence, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 223 

but for whose quiet lunar smile not even Alec's sunny pres- 
ence could quite make up, contributed no doubt to this 
longing after the new maiden. She wrote to Mr. Fraser, 
asking him to allow his niece to pay her a visit of a few 
weeks ; but she said nothing about it to Alec. The arrange- 
ment happened to be convenient to Mr. Fraser, who wished 
to accept an invitation himself. It was now the end of 
April ; and he proposed that the time should be fixed for 
the beginning of June. 

When this favorable response arrived, Mrs. Forbes 
gave Alec the letter to read, and saw the flush of delight 
that rose to his face as he gathered the welcome news. 
Nor was this observation unpleasant to her ; for that Alec 
should at length marry one of his own people was a grate- 
ful idea. 

Alec sped away into the fields. To think that all these 
old familiar places would one day be glorified by her pres- 
ence ! that the daisies would bend beneath the foot of the 
goddess ! and the everlasting hills put on a veil of tender- 
ness from the reflex radiance of her regard ! A flush of 
summer mantled over the face of nature, the flush of a 
deeper summer than that of the year — of the joy that lies 
at the heart of all summers. For a whole week of hail, 
sleet, and " watery sunbeams " followed, and yet in the 
eyes of Alec the face of nature still glowed. 

When, after long expectation, the day arrived, Alec could 
not rest. He wandered about all day, haunting his mother 
as she prepared his room for Kate, hurrying away with a 
sudden sense of the propriety of indifference, and hurrying 
back on some cunning pretext, while his mother smiled to 
herself at his eagerness and the transparency of his artifice. 
At length, as the hour drew near, he could restrain himself 
no longer. He rushed to the stable, saddled his pony, which 
was in nearly as high spirits as himself, and galloped off 
to meet the mail. The sun was nearing the west ; a slight 
shower had just fallen ; the thanks of the thirsty earth were 
ascending in odor ; and the wind was too gentle to shake 
the drops from the leaves. To Alec, the wind of his own 
speed was the river that bore her toward him ; the odors 
were wafted from her approach ; and the sunset sleepiness 
around was the exhaustion of the region that longed for 
her Cytheraean presence. 

At last, as he turned a corner of the road, there was the 
coach ; and he had just time to wheel his pony about before 



224 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

it was up with him. A little gloved hand greeted him ; the 
window was let down ; and the face he had been longing 
for shone out lovelier than ever. There was no inside 
passengers but herself; and, leaning with one hand on the 
coach-door, he rode alongside till they drew near the place 
where the gig was waiting for them, when he dashed on, 
gave his pony to the man, was ready to help her as soon as 
the coach stopped, and so drove her home in triumph to 
his mother. 

Where the coach stopped, on the opposite side of the 
way, a grassy field, which fell like a mantle from the 
shoulders of a hill crowned with firs, sloped down to the 
edge of the road. From the coach, the sun was hidden 
behind a thick clump of trees, but his rays, now red with 
rich age, flowed in a wide stream over the grass, and shone 
on an old Scotch fir which stood a yard or two from the 
highway, making its red bark glow like the pools which the 
prophet saw in the desert. At the foot of the tree sat 
Tibbie Dyster ; and from her red cloak the level sun-tide 
was thrown back in gorgeous glory ; so that the eyeless 
woman, who only felt the warmth of the great orb, seemed, 
in her effulgence of luminous red, to be the light-fountain 
whence that torrent of rubescence burst. From her it 
streamed up to the stem and along the branches of the 
glowing fir ; from her it streamed over the radiant grass of 
the up-sloping field away towards the western sun. But 
the only one who saw the splendor was a shoemaker, who 
rubbed his resiny hands together, and felt happy without 
knowing why. 

Alec would have found it difficult to say whether or not 
he had seen the red cloak. But from the shadowy side of 
it there were eyes shining upon him, with a deeper and 
truer, if with a calmer, or, say, colder devotion, than that 
with which he regarded Kate. The most powerful rays that 
fall from the sun are neither those of color nor those of 
heat. — Annie sat by Tibbie's side — the side away from the 
sun. If the East and the West might take human shape — 
come forth in their Oreads from their hill-tops, and meet 
half-way between — there they were seated side by side : 
Tibbie, old, scarred, blind Til)bie, was of the west and the 
sunset, the center of a blood-red splendor ; cold, gentle 
Annie, with her dark hair, blue eyes, and the sad wisdom of 
her pale face, was of the sun-deserted east, between whose 
gray clouds, faintly smiling back the rosiness of the sun's 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 225 

triumphal death, two or three cold stars were waiting to 
glimmer. 

Tibbie had come out to bask a little, and, in the dark 
warmth of the material sun, to worship that Sun whose light 
she saw in the hidden world of her heart, and who is the 
Sun of all the worlds ; to breathe the air, which, through 
her prison-bars, spoke of freedom ; to give herself room to 
long for the hour when the loving Father would take her 
out of the husk which infolded her, and say to her : " See, 
my child." With the rest of the travailing creation, she was 
groaning in hopeful pain — not in the pain of the mother, 
but in the pain of the child, soon to be forgotten in the fol- 
lowing rest. 

If my younger readers want to follow Kate and Alec 
home, they will take it for a symptom of the chill approach 
of " unlovely age," that I say to them : "We will go home 
with Tibbie and Annie, and hear what they say. I like bet- 
ter to tell you about ugly, blind old Tibbie than about beau- 
tiful young Kate. — But you shall have your turn. Do not 
think that we old people do not care for what you care for. 
We want more than you want — a something without which 
what you like best can not last." 

" What did the coch stop for, Annie, lass ? " asked Tib- 
bie, as soon as the mail had driven on. 

** It's a lady gaein' to Mistress Forbes's at Howglen." 

" Hoo ken ye that ? " 

" 'Cause Alec Forbes rade ootto meet her, and syne took 
her hame i' the gig." 

" Ay ! ay ! I thought I heard mair nor the ordinar num- 
mer o' horse-feet as the coch cam' up. He's a braw lad, 
that Alec Forbes — isna he ? " 

" Ay is he," answered Annie, sadly ; not from jealousy, for 
her admiration of Alec was from afar ; but as looking up 
from purgatorial exclusion to the paradise of Howglen, 
where the beautiful lady would have all Mrs. Forbes, and 
Alec too, to herself. 

The old woman caught the tone, but misinterpreted it. 

" I doot," she said, " he winna get ony guid at that col- 
lege." 

" What for no ? " returned Annie. " I was at the school 
wi' him, and never saw ony thing to fin' fau't wi'." 

" Ow na, lassie. Ye had naething to do fin'in' fau't wi' 
him. His father was a douce man, an' maybe a God-fearin' 
man, though he made but sma' profession. I think we're 



226 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

whiles ower sair upo' some o' them that promises little, and 
maybe does the main Ye min' what ye read to me afore 
we cam' oot thegither, aboot the lad that said till's father, 
I go not ; but afterwards he repented and gaed ? " 

"Ay." 

" Weel, I think we'll gang hame noo." 

They rose, and went, hand in hand, over the bridge, and 
round the end of its parapet, and down the steep descent to 
the cottage at its foot, Tibbie's cloak shining all the way, 
but, now that the sun was down, with a chastened radiance. 
When she had laid it aside, and was seated on her low wooden 
chair within reach of her spinning-wheel: 

** Noo," said Tibbie, " ye'll jist read a chapter till me, 
lassie, afore ye gang hame, and syne I s' gang to my bed. 
Blin'ness is a sair savin' o' can'les." 

She forgot that it was summer, when, in those northern 
regions, the night has no time to gather before the sun is 
flashing again in the east. 

The chapter Annie chose was the ninth of St. John's 
Gospel, about Jesus curing the man blind from his birth. 
When she had finished, Annie said : 

*' Michtna he cure you, Tibbie, gin ye spiered at him ? " 

" Ay micht he, and ay will he," answered Tibbie. " I'm 
only jist bidin' his time. But I'm thinkin' he'll cure me bet- 
ter yet nor he cured that blin' man. He'll jist tak' the body 
aff o' me a'thegither, and syne I'll see, no wi' een like yours, 
but wi' my haill speeritual body. Ye min' that verse i' the 
prophecees o' Ezakiel : I ken't weel by hert. It says : 
* And their whole boady, and their backs, and their ban's, 
and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes roon 
aboot, even the wheels that they four had.' Isna that a 
gran' text ? I wiss Mr. Turnbull wad tak' it into his held 
to preach frae that text sometime afore it comes, which 
winna be that lang, I'm thinkin'. The wheels'll be stoppin' 
at my door or lang." 

" What gars ye think that, Tibbie ? There's no sign o' 
deith aboot you, I'm sure," said Annie. 

" Weel, ye see, I canna weel say. Blin' fowk somehoo 
kens mair nor ither fowk aboot things that the sicht o' the 
een has unco little to do wi'. But never min'. I'm willin' 
to bide i' the dark as lang as He likes. It's eneuch for ony 
bairn to ken that its father's stan'in' i' the licht, and seein' 
a' aboot him, and sae weel able to guide hit, though it 
kensna whaur to set doon its fit neist. And I wat He's i' 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 227 

the licht. Ye min' that bit aboot the Lord pittin' Moses 
intil a cUft o' the rock, and syne coverin' him wi' his han' 
till he was by him ? " 

" Ay, fine that," answered Annie. 

" Weel, I canna help thinkin' whiles, that the dark aboot 
me's list the how o' the Lord's han' ; and I'm like Moses, 
only wi' this differ, that whan the Lord tak's his han' aff o' 
me, it'll be to lat me luik i' the face o' Him, and no to lat me 
see only his back pairts, which was a' that he had the sicht 
o' ; for ye see Moses was i' the body, and cudna bide the 
sicht o' the face o' God. I daursay it wad hae blin' 't him. 
I hae heard that ower muckle licht'U ca fowk blin' whiles. 
What think ye, lassie ? " 

" Ay ; the lichtnin' blin's fowk whiles. And gin I luik 
straucht at the sun, I can see nothing efter't for a while." 

" I tell ye sae ! " exclaimed Tibbie triumphantly. " And 
do ye min' the veesion that the apostle John saw in Pawt- 
mos ? I reckon he micht hae thocht lang there, a' him lane, 
gin it hadna been for the bonnie things, and the gran' things, 
and the terrible things 'at the Lord loot him see. They war 
gran' sichts ! It was the veesion o' the Saviour himsel' — 
Christ himsel' ; and he says that his countenance was as the 
sun shineth in his strength. What think ye o' that, lass ! " 

This was not a question, but an exulting exclamation. 
The vision in Patmos proved that although Moses must not 
see the face of God because of its brightness, a more favored 
prophet might have the vision. And Tibbie, who had a 
share in the privileges of the new covenant, who was not 
under the law like Moses, but under grace like John, would 
one day see the veil of her blindness shrivel away from before 
her deeper eyes, burned up by the glory of that face of God, 
which is a consuming fire. — I suppose that Tibbie was right 
in the main. But was it not another kind of brightness 
without effulgence, a brightness grander and more glorious, 
shining in love and patience, and tenderness and forgive- 
ness and excuse, that Moses was unfit to see, because he was 
not well able to understand it, until, ages after, he descended 
from heaven upon the Mount of Transfiguration, and the 
humble son of God went up from the lower earth to meet 
him there, and talk with him face to face as a man with his 
friend ? 

Annie went home to her garret. It was a singular experi- 
ence the child had in the changes that came to her with the 
seasons. The winter with its frost and bitter winds brought 



228 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

her a home at Howglen ; the summer, whose airs were 
molten kisses, took it away, and gave her the face of nature 
instead of the face of a human mother. For the snug Httle 
chamber in which she heard with a quiet exultation the 
fierce rush of the hail-scattering tempest against the window, 
or the fluffy fall of the snow-flakes, like hands of fairy 
babies patting the glass, and fancied herself out in the 
careering storm, hovering on the wings of the wind over the 
house in which she lay soft and warm — she had now the 
garret room, in which the curtainless bed, with its bare poles, 
looked like a vessel in distress at sea, and through the roof 
of which the winds found easy way. But the winds were 
warm now, and through the skylight the sunbeams illumi- 
nated the floor, showing all the rat-holes and wretchedness 
of decay. 

There was comfort out of doors in the daytime — in the 
sky and the fields and all the " goings-on of life." And 
this night, after this talk with Tibbie, Annie did not much 
mind going back to the garret. Nor did she lie awake to 
think about the beautiful lady Alec had taken home with 
him. 

And she dreamed again that she saw the Son of Man, 
There was a veil over his face like the veil that Moses wore, 
but the face was so bright that it almost melted the veil 
away, and she saw what made her love that face more than 
the presence of Alec, more than the kindness of Mrs. Forbes 
or Dowie, more than the memory of her father. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 



Alec did not fall asleep so soon. The thought that Kate 
was in the house — asleep in the next room, kept him awake. 
Yet he woke the next morning earlier than usual. There 
were bands of golden light upon the wall, though Kate 
would not be awake for hours yet. 

He sprang out of bed, and ran to the banks of the Gla- 
mour. Upon the cold morning stream the sun-rays fell 
slanting and gentle. He plunged in, and washed the dreams 
from his eyes with a dive, and a swim under water. Then 
he rose to the surface and swam slowly about under the 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 229 

overhanging willows, and earthy banks hollowed by the 
river's flow into cold damp caves, up into the brown shad- 
ows of which the water cast a flickering shimmer. Then he 
dressed himself, and lay down on the meadow grass, each 
blade of which shadowed its neighbor in the slant sunlight. 
Cool as it still was with the coldness of the vanished twi- 
light, it yet felt warm to his bare feet, fresh from the waters 
that had crept down through the night from the high moor- 
lands. He fell fast asleep, and the sheep came and fed 
about him, as if he had been one of themselves. When he 
woke, the sun was high ; and when he reached the house, 
he found his mother and Kate already seated at breakfast — 
Kate in the prettiest of cotton dresses, looking as fresh and 
country-like as the morning itself. The window was open, 
and through the encircling ivy, as through a filter of shad- 
ows, the air came fresh and cool. Beyond the shadow of 
the house lay the sunshine, a warm sea of brooding glory, 
of still power ; not the power of flashing into storms of 
splendor beneath strange winds, but of waking up and cher- 
ishing to beauty the shy life that lay hidden in all remotest 
corners of the teeming earth. 

" What are you going to do with Kate to-day, Alec ? " 
said his mother. 

*' Whatever Kate likes," answered Alec. 

<* I have no choice," returned Kate. " I don't know yet 
what I have to choose between. I am in your hands. Alec." 

It was the first time she had called him by his name, and 
a spear of sunshine seemed to quiver in his heart. He was 
restless as a hyena till she was ready. He then led her to 
the banks of the river, here low and grassy, with plenty of 
wild flowers, and a low babblement everywhere. 

" This is delightful," said Kate. " I will come here as 
often as you like, and you shall read to me." 

" What shall I read ? Would you like one of Sir Walter's 
novels ? " 

" Just the thing." 

Alec started at full speed for the house. 

" Stop," cried Kate. " You are not going to leave me 
alone beside this — talking water ? " 

" I thought you liked the water," said Alec. 

" Yes. But I don't want to be left alone beside it. I 
will go with you, and get some work." 

She turned away from the stream with a strange back- 
ward look, and they walked home. 



230 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

But as Kate showed some disinclination to return to the 
river-side, Alec put a seat for her near the house, in the 
shadow of a silver birch, and threw himself on the grass at 
her feet. There he began to read the Antiquary, only half 
understanding it, in the enchantment of knowing that he 
was lying at her feet, and had only to look up to see her 
eyes. At noon, Mrs. Forbes sent them a dish of curds, and 
a great jug of cream, with oatcakes, and butter soft from 
the churn ; and the rippling shadow of the birch played 
over the white curds and the golden butter as they ate. 

Am I not fairly afloat upon the gentle stream of an idyl t 
Shall I watch the banks as they glide past, and record each 
fairy-headed flower that looks at its image in the wave ? 
Or shall I mow them down and sweep them together in a 
sentence ? 

I will gather a few of the flowers, and leave the rest. But 
first I will make a remark or two upon the young people. 

Those amongst my readers who have had the happiness 
to lead innocent boy-lives, will know what a marvelous 
delight it was to Alec to have this girl near him in his own 
home and his own haunts. He never speculated on her 
character or nature, any more than Hamlet did about those 
of Ophelia before he was compelled to doubt womankind. 
His own principles were existent only in a latent condition, 
undeveloped from good impulses and kind sentiments. For 
instance : he would help any one whose necessity happened 
to make an impression upon him, but he never took pains 
to enter into the feelings of others — to understand them 
from their own point of view : he never said to himself, 
" That is another me." 

Correspondent to this condition were some of Kate's the- 
ories of life and its duties. 

The question came up, whether a certain lady in fiction 
had done right in running away with her lover. Mrs. 
Forbes made a rather decided remark on the subject. 
Kate said nothing, but her face glowed. 

" Tell us what you think about it, Katie," said Mrs. 
Forbes. 

Katie was silent for a moment. Then with the air of a 
martyr, from whom the rack can only extort a fuller con- 
fession of his faith — though I fear she had no deeper gos- 
pel at the root of it than Byron had brought her — she 
answered : 

" I think a woman must give up every thing for love." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 231 

She was then precisely of the same opinion as Jean Paul's 
Linda in Titan. 

" That is very true, I dare say," said Mrs. Forbes ; " but 
I fear you mean only one kind of love. Does a woman owe 
no love to her father or mother because she has a lover ?" 

To this plain question Kate made no reply, but her look 
changed to one of obstinacy. 

Her mother died when she was a child, and her father 
had kept himself shut up in his study, leaving her chiefly 
to the care of a Shetland nurse, who told her Scandinavian 
stories from morning to night, with invention ever ready to 
supply any blank in the tablets of her memory. 

Alec thought his mother's opinion the more to be ap- 
proved, and Kate's the more to be admired ; showing the 
lack of entireness in his nature, by thus dissociating the 
good and the admirable. That which is best can not be less 
admirable than that which is not best. 



CHAPTER XLIX. 



The next day saw Alec walking by the side of Kate 
mounted on his pony, up a steep path to the top of one of 
the highest hills surrounding the valley. It was a wild hill, 
with hardly any thing growing on it but heather, which 
would make it regal with purple in the autumn : no 
tree could stand the blasts that blew over that hill in 
winter. Having climbed to the topmost point, they stood 
and gazed. The country lay outstretched beneath in the 
glow of the June day, while around them flitted the cool 
airs of heaven. Above them rose the soaring blue of the 
June sky, with a white cloud or two floating in it, and a 
blue peak or two leaning its color against it. Through the 
green grass and the green corn below crept two silvery 
threads, meeting far away and floating in one — the two 
rivers which watered the valley of Strathglamour. Between 
the rivers lay the gray stone town, with its roofs of thatch 
and slate. One of its main streets stopped suddenly at the 
bridge with the three arches above Tibbie's cottage ; and at 
the other end of the bridge lay the green fields. 

The landscape was not one of the most beautiful, but it 



232 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

had a beauty of its own, which is all a country or a woman 
needs ; and Kate sat gazing about her in evident delight. 
She had taken off her hat to feel the wind, and her hair fell 
in golden heaps upon her shoulders, and the wind and the 
sunbeams played at hide-and-seek in it. 

In a moment the pleasure vanished from her face. It 
clouded over, while the country lay full in the sun. Her 
eyes no longer looked wide abroad, but expressed defeat 
and retirement. Listlessly she began to gather her hair 
together. 

" Do you ever feel as if you could not get room enough, 
Alec?" she said wearily. 

" No, I don't," he answered, honestly and stupidly. " I 
have always as much as I want. I should have thought you 
would — up here." 

" I did feel satisfied for a moment ; but it was only a 
moment. It is all gone now. I shall never have room 
enough." 

Alec had nothing to say in reply. He never had any 
thing to give Kate but love ; and now he gave her more 
love. It was all he was rich in. But she did not care for 
his riches. And so, after gazing a while, she turned towards 
the descent. Alec picked up her hat, and took his place at 
the pony's head. He was not so happy as he thought he 
should be. Somehow she was of another order, and he 
could not understand her — he could only worship her. 

The whole of the hot afternoon they spent on the grass, 
whose mottling of white clover filled the wandering airs 
with the odors of the honey of Hymettus. And after tea 
Kate sang, and Alec drank every tone as if his soul lived by 
hearing. 

In this region the sun works long after hours in the sum- 
mer, and they went out to see him go down weary. They 
leaned together over the gate and looked at the level glory, 
which now burned red and dim. Lamp of life, it burns all 
night long in the eternal night of the universe, to chase the 
primeval darkness from the great entrance hall of the 
" human mortals." 

" What a long shadow every thing throws ! " said Kate. 
" When the shadows gather all together, and melt into one, 
then it is night. Look how the light creeps about the roots 
of the grass on the ridge, as if it were looking for something 
between the shadows. They are both going to die. Now 
they begin." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 233 

The sun diminished to a star — a spark of crimson fire, 
and vanished. As if he had sunk in a pool of air and made 
it overflow, a gentle ripple of wind blew from the sunset over 
the grass. They could see the grass bending and swaying 
and bathing in its coolness before it came to them. It blew 
on their faces at length, and whispered something they could 
not understand, making Kate think of her mother, and Alec 
of Kate. 

Now that same breeze blew upon Tibbie and Annie, as 
they sat in the patch of meadow by the cottage, between the 
river and the Ulster s dam. It made Tibbie think of death, 
the opener of sleeping eyes, the uplifter of hanging hands. 
For Tibbie's darkness was the shadow of her grave, on the 
further border of which the light was breaking in music. 
Death and resurrection were the same thing to blind old 
Tibbie. 

When the gentle, washing wind blew upon Annie, she 
thought of the wind that bloweth where it listeth ; and that, 
if ever the Spirit of God blew upon her, she would feel it just 
like that wind of summer sunset — so cool, so blessed, so 
gentle, so living ! And was it not God that breathed that 
wind upon her ? Was he not even then breathing his Spirit 
into the soul of that woman-child ? 

It blew upon Andrew Constable, as he stood in his shop- 
door, the easy labor of his day all but over. And he said to 
his little weasel-faced, douce, old-fashioned child who stood 
leaning against the other door-cheek: 

" That's a fine caller bit blastie, Isie ! Dinna ye like to 
fin' 't blawin' upo' yer het cheeks, dawtie ? " 

And she answered. 

" Ay, I like it weel, daddie ; but it min's me some upo* 
the winter." 

And Andrew looked anxiously at the pale face of his 
child, who, at six years old, in the month of June, had no 
business to know that there was any winter. But she was 
the child of elderly parents, and had not been born in time; 
so that she was now in reality about twenty. 

It blew upon Robert Bruce, who had just run out into the 
yard, to see how his potatoes and cabbage were coming on. 
He said. 

" It's some cauld," and ran in again to put on his hat. 

Alec and Kate, I have said, stood looking into the dark- 
ening field. A great flock of rooks which filled the air with 
their rooky gossip, was flying straight home to an old gray 



234 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ruin just visible amongst some ancient trees. They had been 
gathering worms and grubs all day, and now it was bed time. 
They felt, through all their black feathers, the coolness of 
that evening breeze which came from the cloudy mausoleum 
already built over the grave of the down-gone sun. 

Kate hearing them rejoicing far overhead, searched for 
them in the darkening sky, found them, and watched their 
flight, till the black specks were dissolved in the distance. 
They are not the most poetic of birds, but in a darkening 
country twilight, over silent fields, they blend into the general 
tone, till even their noisy caw suggests repose. But it was 
room Kate wanted, not rest. She would know one day, how- 
ever, that room and rest are the same, and that the longings 
for both spring from the same need. 

" What place is that in the trees ? " she asked. 

" The old castle of Glamerton," answered Alec. " Would 
you like to go and see it ? " 

"Yes ; very much." 

" We'll go to-morrow, then." 

" The dew is beginning to fall, Kate," said Mrs. Forbes, 
who now joined them. " You had better come in." 

Alec lingered behind. An unknown emotion drew his 
heart toward the earth. He would see her go to sleep in 
the twilight, which was now beginning to brood over her, as 
with the brown wings of a lovely duU-hued hen-bird. The 
daisies were all asleep, spotting the green grass with stars of 
carmine ; for their closed red tips, like the finger-points of 
two fairy hands, tenderly joined together, pointed up in little 
cones to keep the yellow stars warm within, that they might 
shine bright when the great star of day came to look for 
them. The light of the down-gone sun, the garment of 
Aurora, which, so short would be her rest, she had not drawn 
close around her on her couch, floated up on the horizon, and 
swept slowly northwards, lightly upborne on that pale sea of 
delicate green and gold, to flicker all night around the 
northern coast of the sky, and, streaming up in the heavens, 
melt at last in the glory of the uprisen Titan. The trees 
stood still and shadowy as clouds, but breathing out myste- 
rious odors. The stars overhead, half-molten away in the 
ghostly light that would not go, were yet busy at their night- 
work, ministering to the dark sides of the other worlds. 
There was no moon. A wide stillness and peace, as of a 
heart at rest, filled space, and lying upon the human souls 
with a persistent quietness that might be felt, made them 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 235 

known what might be theirs. Now and then a bird sprang 
out with a sudden tremor of leaves, suddenly stilled. But 
the bats came and went in silence, like feelings yet unem- 
bodied in thoughts, vanishing before the sight had time to 
be startled at their appearing. All was marvel. And the 
marvel of all was there — where the light glimmered faintly 
through the foliage. He approached the house with an awe 
akin to that with which an old poetic Egyptian drew near to 
the chamber of the goddess Isis. 

He entered, and his Isis was laughing merrily. 

In the morning, great sun-crested clouds with dark sides 
hung overhead ; and while they sat at breakfast, one of 
those glorious showers, each of whose great drops carries a 
sun-spark in its heart, fell on the walks with a tumult of 
gentle noises, and on the grass almost as silently as if it had 
been another mossy cloud. The leaves of the ivy hanging 
over the windows quivered and shook, each for itself, beneath 
the drops, and between the drops, one of which would have 
beaten him to the earth, wound and darted in safety a great 
humble-bee. 

Kate and Alec went to the open window and looked out 
on the rainy world, breathing the odors released from the 
grass and the ground. Alec turned from the window to 
Kate's face, and saw upon it a keen, yet solemn delight. 
But as he gazed, he saw a cloud come over it. The arched 
upper lip dropped sadly upon the other, and she looked 
troubled and cold. Instinctively he glanced out again for 
the cause. The rain had become thick and small, and a 
light opposing wind disordered its descent with broken and 
crossing lines. 

This change from a summer to a winter rain had altered 
Kate's mood, and her face was now, as always, a reflex of 
the face of nature. 

" Shut the window, please, Alec," she said with a 
shiver. 

** We'll have a fire directly," said Alec. 

" No, no," returned Kate, trying to smile. " Just fetch 
me a shawl from the closet in my room." 

Alec had not been in his own room since Kate came. He 
entered it with a kind of gentle awe, and stood just within 
the door, gazing as if rebuked. 

From a pair of tiny shoes under the dressing-table, 
radiated a whole roomful of femininity. He was almost afraid 
to go further, and would not have dared to look in the mir- 



236 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ror. In three days her mere presence had made the room 
marvelous. 

Recovering himself, he hastened to the closet, got the 
shawl, and went down the stairs three steps at a time. 

" Couldn't you find it. Alec ? " said Kate. 

*' Oh yes ; I found it at once," answered Alec, blushing 
to the eyes. 

I wonder whether Kate guessed what made the boy blush. 
But it does not matter much now. She did look curiously 
at him for a moment. 

" Just help me with my shawl," she said. 



CHAPTER L. 



During all this time, Annie had seen scarcely any thing 
of her aunt Margaret Anderson. Ever since Bruce had 
offended her, on the occasion of her first visit, she had taken 
her custom elsewhere, and had never even called to see her 
niece. Annie had met her several times in the street, and 
that was all. Hence, on one of the fine afternoons of that 
unusually fine summer, and partly, perhaps from missing the 
kindness of Mrs. Forbes, Annie took a longing to see her old 
aunt, and set out for Clippenstrae to visit her. It was a 
walk of two miles, chiefly along the high road, bordered in 
part by accessible plantation. Through this she loitered 
along, enjoying the few wild flowers and the many lights and 
shadows, so that it was almost evening before she reached 
her destination. 

" Preserve's a' ! Annie Anderson, what brings ye here 
this time o' nicht ? " exclaimed her aunt. 

" It's a lang time sin' I saw ye, auntie, and I wantit to 
see ye." 

" Weel, come butt the hoose. Ye're growin' a great 
muckle quean," said her aunt, inclined to a favorable con- 
sideration of her by her growth. 

Margaret " didna like bairns — menseless craturs — aye 
wantin' ither fowk to do for them ! " But growth was a kind 
of regenerating process in her eyes, and when a girl began 
to look like a woman, she regarded it as an outward sign of 
conversion, or something equally valuable. — So she con- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 237 

ducted her into the presence of her uncle, a little old man, 
worn and bent, with gray locks peeping out from under a 
Highland bonnet. 

" This is my brither Jeames's bairn," she said. 

The old man received her kindly, called her his dawtie, 
and made her sit down by him on a three-legged creepie, 
talking to her as if she had been quite a child, while she, 
capable of high converse as she was, replied in correspond- 
ing terms. Her great-aunt was confined to her bed with 
rheumatism. Supper was preparing, and Annie was not 
sorry to have a share, for indeed, during the summer, her 
meals were often scanty enough. While they ate, the old 
man kept helping her to the best, talking to her all the 
time. 

" Will ye no come and bide wi' me, dawtie ? " he said, 
meaning little by the question. 

" Na, na," answered Margaret for her. "She's at the 
schule, ye ken, uncle, and we maunna interfere wi' her 
schoolin'. — Hoo does that leein' ted, Robert Bruce, carry 
himsel' to ye, bairn ? " 

" Ow ! I jist never min' him," answered Annie. 

" Weel, it's a' he deserves at your han'. But gin I war 
you, I wad let him ken that gin he saws your corn ye hae a 
richt to raither mair nor his gleanins." 

" I dinna ken what ye mean," answered Annie. 

" Ow ! na ; I daursay no. But ye may jist as weel ken 
noo, that that ted, Robert Bruce, has twa hunner poun' odd 
o' yer ain, lassie ; and gin he doesna use ye weel, ye can jist 
tell him 'at I telt ye sae." 

This piece of news had not the overpowering effect upon 
Annie which, perhaps, her aunt had expected. No doubt 
the money seemed in her eyes a limitless fortune ; but then 
Bruce had it. She might as soon think of robbing a bear 
of her whelps as getting her own from Bruce. Besides, what 
could she do with it if she had it ? And she had not yet 
acquired the faculty of loving money for its own sake. When 
she rose to take her leave, she felt little richer than when 
she entered, save for the kind words of John Peterson. 

" It's ower late for ye to gang hame yer lane, dawtie," 
said the old man. 

" I'm nae that fleyt," answered Annie, 

" Weel, gin ye walk wi' Him, the mirk'Il be licht aboot 
ye," said he, taking off his Highland bonnet, and looking 
up with a silent recognition of the carfe of Him. " Be a 



238 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

gude lass," he resumed, replacing his bonnet, " an' rin hame 
as fest's ye can. Gude nicht to ye, dawtie." 

Rejoicing as if she had found her long-lost home, Annie 
went out into the deep gloaming feeling it impossible she 
should be frightened at any thing. But when she came to 
the part of the road bordered with trees, she could not help 
fancying she saw a figure flitting along from tree to tree 
just within the deeper dusk of the wood, and as she hurried 
on, fancy grew to fear. Presently she heard awful sounds, 
like the subdued growling of wild beasts. She would have 
taken to her heels in terror, but she reflected that thereby 
she would only insure pursuit, whereas she might slip away 
unperceived. As she reached a stile leading into the wood, 
however, a dusky figure came bounding over it, and 
advanced towards her. To her relief it went on two legs ; 
and when it came nearer she recognized some traits of old 
acquaintance about it. When it was within a couple of 
yards of her, as she still pursued her way towards Glamer- 
ton, she stopped and cried out joyfully : 

" Curly ! " — for it was her old vice-champion. 

" Annie ! " was the equally joyful response. 

" I thocht ye was a wild beast ! " said Annie. 

*' I was only growlin' for fun to mysel','' answered Curly, 
who would have done it all the more if he had known there 
was any one on the road. " I didna ken 'at I was fleggin' 
ony body. An' hoo are ye, Annie ? An' hoo's Blister 
Bruce ? " 

For Curly was dreadfully prolific in nicknames. 

Annie had not seen him for six months. He had con- 
tinued to show himself so full of mischief, though of a com- 
paratively innocent sort, that his father thought it better at 
last to send him to a town at some distance to learn the 
trade of a saddler, for which he had shown a preference. 

This was his first visit to his home. Hitherto his father 
had received no complaints of his behavior, and had now 
begged a holiday. 

" Ye're grown sair, Annie," he said. 

" Sae are ye. Curly," answered Annie. 

"An' hoo's Alec?" 

" He's verra weel." 

Whereupon much talk followed, which need not be 
recorded. At length Curly said : 

" And hoo's the rottans ? " 

" Ower weel and thrivin'." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 239 

" Jist pit yer han' i' my coat-pooch, and see what I hae 
broucht ye." 

Knowing Curly's propensities, Annie refused. 

" It's a wild beast," said Curly. " I'll lat it oot upo' ye. 
It was it 'at made a' that roarin' i' the plantin'." 

So saying, he pulled out of his pocket the most delicate 
tortoise-shell kitten, not half the beauty of which could be 
perceived in the gloaming, which is all the northern summer 
night. He threw it at Annie, but she had seen enough not 
to be afraid to catch it in her hands. 

*' Did ye fess this a' the road frae Spinnie to me, Curly ?" 

" Ay did I, Annie. Ye see I dinna like rottans. But ye 
maun haud it oot o' their gait for a feow weeks, or they'll 
rive't a' to bits. It'll sune be a match for them though, I 
s' warran'. She comes o' a killin' breed." 

Annie took the kitten home, and it shared her bed that 
night. 

"What's that meowlin ?" asked Bruce the next morning, 
the moment he rose from the genuflexion of morning 
prayers. 

" It's my kittlin'," answered Annie. *' I'll lat ye see't." 

" We hae ower mony mou's i' the hoose already," said 
Bruce, as she returned with the little peering baby-animal 
in her arms. " We hae nae room for mair. Here, Rob, 
tak' the cratur, an' pit a tow aboot it's neck an' a stane to 
the tow, an' fling't into the Glamour." 

Annie, not waiting to parley, darted from the house with 
the kitten. 

" Rin efter her, Rob," said Bruce, " an' tak' it frae her, 
and droon't. We canna hae the hoose swarmin'." 

Rob bolted after her, delighted with his commission. But 
instead of finding her at the door, as he had expected, he 
saw her already a long way up the street, flying like the 
wind. He started in keen pursuit. He was now a great 
lumbering boy, and although Annie's wind was not equal 
to his, she was more fleet. She took the direct road to 
Howglen, and Rob kept floundering after her. Before she 
reached the footbridge she was nearly breathless, and he 
was gaining fast upon her. Just as she turned the corner 
of the road, leading up on the other side of the water, she 
met Alec and Kate. Unable to speak, she passed without 
appeal. But there was no need to ask the cause of her pale, 
agonized face, for there was young Bruce at her heels. 
Alec collared him instantly. 



240 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" What are you up to ? " he asked. 

" Naething," answered the panting pursuer, 

" Gin ye be efter naething, ye'll fin' that nearer hame," 
retorted Alec, twisting him round in that direction, and 
giving him a kick to expedite his return. " Lat me hear o' 
you troublin' Annie Anderson, an' I'll gar ye loop oot o' 
yer skin the neist time I lay han's upo' ye. Gang hame." 

Rob obeyed like a frightened dog, while Annie pursued 
her course to Howglen, as if her enemy had been still on 
her track. Rushing into the parlor, she fell on the floor 
before Mrs. Forbes, unable to utter a word. The kitten 
sprung mewing out of her arms, and took refuge under the 
sofa. 

** Mem, mem," she gasped at length, " tak' care o' my 
kittlin. They want to droon't. It's my ain. Curly gied 
it to me." 

Mrs. Forbes comforted her, and readily undertook the 
tutelage. Annie was very late for school, for Mrs. Forbes 
made her have another breakfast before she went. But Mr. 
Malison was in a good humor that day, and said nothing. 
Rob Bruce looked devils at her. What he had told his 
father I do not know ; but whatever it was, it was all written 
down in Bruce's mental books to the debit of Alexander 
Forbes of Howglen. 

Mrs. Forbes's heart smote her when she found to what 
persecution her little friend was exposed during those times 
her favor was practically although not really withdrawn ; 
but she did not see how she could well remedy it. She was 
herself in the power of Bruce, and expostulation from her 
would be worth little ; while to have Annie in the house as 
before would involve consequences unpleasant to all con- 
cerned. She resolved to make up for it by being kinder to 
her than ever as soon as Alec should have followed Kate to 
the precincts of the university ; while for the present she 
comforted both herself and Annie by telling her to be sure 
to come to her when she found herself in any trouble. 

But Annie was not one to apply to her friends except she 
was in great need of their help. The present case had been 
one of life and death. She found no further occasion to 
visit Mrs. Forbes before Kate and Alec were both gone. 



CHAPTER LI. 

On a sleepy summer afternoon, just when the sunshine 
begins to turn yellow, Annie was sitting with Tibbie on the 
grass in front of her little cottage, whose door looked up 
the river. The cottage stood on a small rocky eminence at 
the foot of the bridge. Underneath the approach to it from 
the bridge the dyer's mill-race ran by a passage cut in the 
rock, leading to the third arch of the bridge built over the 
Glamour. Toward the river the rock went down steep to 
the little meadow. It was a triangular piece of smooth 
grass growing on the old bed of the river, which for many 
years had been leaving this side, and wearing away the 
opposite bank. It lay between the river, the dyer's race 
and the bridge, one of the stone piers of which rose from it. 
The grass which grew upon it was short, thick and delicate. 
On the opposite side of the river lay a field for bleaching 
the linen, which was the chief manufacture of that country. 
Hence it enjoyed the privilege of immunity from the 
plowshare. None of its daisies ever met the fate of 
Burns's 

" Wee, modest, crimson-tippit flower." 

But indeed so constantly was the grass mown to keep it 
short, that there was scarcely a daisy to be seen in it, the 
long, broad lines of white linen usurping their place, and in 
their stead keeping up the contrast of white and green. 
Around Tibbie and Annie, however, the daisies were shining 
back to the sun, confidently, with their hearts of gold and 
their rays of silver. And the buttercups were all of gold ; 
and the queen-of-the-meadow, which grew at the water-side, 
perfumed the whole region with her crown of silvery blos- 
som. Tibbie's blind face was turned toward the sun ; and 
her hands were busy as ants with her knitting-needles, for 
she was making a pair of worsted stockings for Annie against 
the winter. No one could fit stockings so well as Tibbie. 

" Wha's that comin', lassie ? " she asked. 

Annie, who had heard no one, glanced round, and, rising, 
said, 

" It's Thomas Crann." 

" That's no Thomas Crann," rejoined Tibbie. " I dinna 
hear the host {cough) o' 'im." 



242 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Thomas came up, pale and limping a little. 

" That's no Thomas Crann ! " repeated Tibbie, before he 
had time to address her. 

'' What for no, Tibbie ? " returned Thomas. 

" 'Cause I canna hear yer breath, Thamas." 

" That's a sign that I hae the mair o' 't, Tibbie. I'm sae 
muckle better o' that ashma that I think whiles the Lord 
maun hae blavvn into my nostrils anither breath o' that life 
that he breathed first into Edam an' Eve." 

" I'm richt glaid to hear't, Thamas. Breath maun come 
frae him ae gait or ither." 

" Nae doobt, Tibbie." 

" Will ye sit doon asides's, Thamas ? It's lang sin* I hae 
seen ye." 

Tibbie always spoke of seeing people. 

" Ay will I, Tibbie. I haena muckle upo* my ban's jist 
the day. Ye see I haena won richt into my wark again yet." 

" Annie an' me's jist been haeing a crack thegither aboot 
this thing an' that thing, Thamas," said Tibbie, dropping 
her knitting on her knees, and folding her palms together. 
" Maybe ye could tell me whether there be ony likeness 
atween the licht that I canna see an' that soun o' the water 
rinnin', aye rinnin', that I like sae weel to hear." 

For it did not need the gentle warm wind, floating rather 
than blowing down the river that afternoon, to bring to their 
ears the sound of the entick, or dam built across the river to 
send the water to the dyer's wheel ; for that sound was in 
Tibbie's cottage day and night, mingled with the nearer, 
gentler and stronger gurgling of the swift, deep deedie water 
in the race, that hurried, aware of its work, with small noise 
and much soft-sliding force toward the wheel. 

" Weel, ye see, Tibbie," answered Thomas, " it's nearhan' 
as ill for the like o' us to unnerstan' your blin'ness as it may 
be for you to unnerstan' oor sicht." 

" Deed maybe neyther o' 's kens muckle aboot oor ain gift 
either o' sicht or blin'ness. Say ony thing ye like, gin ye 
dinna tell me, as the bairn here ance did, that I cudna ken 
what the licht was. I kenna what yer sicht may be, and 
I'm thinkin' I care as little. But weel ken I what the licht is." 

" Tibbie, dinna be ill-nater'd, like me. Ye hae no call to 
that same. I'm tryin' to answer your queston. And gin ye 
interrup' me again, I'll rise an' gang hame." 

" Say awa', Thamas. Never heed me. I'm some cankert 
whiles. I ken that weel eneuch." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 243 

"Ye hae nae business to be cankert, Tibbie." 

" Nae mair nor ither fowk." 

" Less, Tibbie ; less, woman." 

" Hoo mak' ye that oot ? " asked Tibbie, defensively. 

" Ye dinnasee the things to anger ye that ither fowk sees. 
As I cam' doon the street this minute, I cam' upo' twa lad- 
dies — ye ken them — they're twins — ane o' them cripple — " 

" Ay, that was Murdoch Malison's wark ! " interposed 
Tibbie with indignant reminiscence. 

" The man's been sorry for't this mony a day," said 
Thomas ; " sae we maunna come ower't again, Tibbie." 

" Verra weel, Thamas; I s' haud my tongue. What about 
the laddies ? " 

" They war fechtin* i' the verra street ; ruggin' ane anither's 
heid's, an' peggin' at ane anither's noses, an' doin' their verra 
endeevor to destroy the image o' the Almichty — it wasna 
muckle o' 't that was left to blaud. I teuk and throosh them 
baith." 

" An' what cam' o' the image o' the Almichty ? " asked 
Tibbie, with a grotesque contortion of her mouth, and a roll 
of her veiled eyeballs. " I doobt, Thamas," she continued, 
" ye angert yersel' mair nor ye quaietit them wi' the thrashin'. 
The wrath o' man, ye ken, Thamas, worketh not the richt- 
yisness o' God." 

There was not a person in Glamerton who would have 
dared to speak thus to Thomas Crann but Tibbie Dyster, 
perhaps because there was not one who had such a respect 
for him. Possibly the darkness about her made her bolder ; 
but I think it was her truth, which is another word for love, 
however unlike love the outcome may look, that made her 
able to speak in this fashion. 

Thomas was silent for a long minute. Then he said : 

" Maybe ye're i' the richt, Tibbie. Ye aye anger me ; but 
I wad rather hae a body anger me wi' tellm' me the trowth, 
nor I wad hae a' the fair words i' the dictionar'. It's a 
strange thing, wumman, but aye whan a body's tryin' maist 
to gang upricht he's sure to catch a dreadfu' fa'. There I 
hae been warstlin' wi' my ill-temper mair nor ever I did i' 
my life afore ; and I never i' my days lickit twa laddies for 
lickin' ane anither till jist this verra day. And I prayed 
against mysel' afore I cam' oot. I canna win at the boddom 
o' 't." 

"There's waur things nor an ill-temper, Thamas. No 
that it's bonnie aya'. And it's nane like Him 'at was meek 



244 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

and lowly o' hert. But, as I say, there's waur fau'ts nor an 
ill-temper. It wad be no gain to you, Thamas, and no glory 
to Him whase will's your sanctification, gin ye war to ower- 
come yer temper, and syne think a heap o' yersel' that ye 
had done't. Maybe that's what for yer no allooed to be vic- 
torious in yer endeevors." 

" 'Deed, maybe, Tibbie," said Thomas solemnly. " And 
I'm some doobtfu' forbye, whether I mayna be tryin' to ripe 
oot the stockin' frae the wrang en' o' 't. I doobt the fau't's 
nae sae muckle i' my temper as i' my hert. It's mair love 
that I want, Tibbie. Gin I lo'ed my neebor as mysel', I 
cudna be sae ill-natert till him ; though, 'deed, whiles, I'm 
angry eneuch at mysel' — a hantle waur nor at him." 

" Verra true, Thamas," answered Tibbie. " Perfect love 
casteth oot fear, 'cause there's nae room for the twa o' them; 
and I daursay it wad be the same wi' the temper." 

" But I'm no gaein' to gie in to bein' ill-natert for a' that," 
said Thomas, as if alarmed at the possible consequences of 
the conclusion. 

" Na, na. Resist ye the deevil, Thamas. Haud at him, 
man. He's sure to rin at the lang last. But I'm feared ye'll 
gang awa' ohn tellt me aboot the licht and the water. Whan 
I'm sittin' here o' the girse, hearkenin' to the water, as it 
comes murrin', and souffin', an' gurglin' on to me, and syne 
by me and awa', as gin it war spinnin' and twistin' a lot o' 
bonnie wee sonnies a' intil ae muckle gran soun', it pits m6 
i' mind o' the text that says, ' His voice was as the sound o' 
mony waters,* Noo his face is licht — ye ken that, divna ye ? 
— and gin his voice be like the water, there maun be some- 
thing like atween the licht and the water, ye ken. That's 
what garred me spier at ye, Thamas." 

" Weel, I dinna ken richtly hoo to answer ye, Tibbie ; 
but at this moment the licht's playin' bonnie upo' the entick 
— shimmerin' and brakin' upo' the water, as hit bracks upo' 
the stanes afore it fa's. An' what fa's, it luiksas gin it took 
the licht wi' 't i' the wame o' 't like. Eh ! it's bonnie, woman ; 
and I wiss ye had the sicht o' yer een to see't wi'; though 
ye do preten' to think little o't." 

" Weel, weel ! my time's comin', Thamas ; and I maun 
jist bide till it comes. Ye canna help me, I see that. Gin 
I could only open my een for ae minute, I wad ken a' aboot 
it, and be able to answer mysel', I think we'll gang into 
the hoose, for I canna bide it langer." 

All the time they were talking Annie was watching Alec's 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 245 

boat, which had dropped down the river, and was floating 
in the sunshine above the dam. Thomas must have seen it 
too, for it was in the very heart of the radiance reflected to 
them from the watery mirror. But Alec was a painful sub- 
ject with Thomas, for when they chanced to meet now noth- 
ing more than the passing salute of ordinary acquaintance 
was exchanged. And Thomas was not able to be indulgent 
to young people. Certain facts in his nature, as well as cer- 
tain articles in his creed, rendered him unable. So, being 
one of those who never speak of what is painful to them if 
they can avoid it — thinking all the more, he talked about 
the light, and said nothing about the boat that was in the 
middle of it. Had Alec been rowing, Tibbie would have 
heard the oars ; but he only paddled enough to keep the boat 
from drifting on to the dam. Kate sat in the stern looking 
at the water with half-closed eyes, and Alec sat looking at 
Kate, as if his eyes were made only for her. And Annie 
sat in the meadow, and she, too, looked at Kate ; and she 
thought how pretty she was, and how she must like being 
rowed about in the old boat. It seemed quite an old boat 
now. An age had passed since her name was painted on it. 
She wondered if The Bonnie Annie was worn off the stern 
yet ; or if Alec had painted it out, and put the name of the 
pretty lady instead. When Tibbie and Thomas walked 
away into the house, Annie lingered behind on the grass. 

The sun sank slanting and slow, yet he did sink, lower 
and lower, till at length Alec leaned back with a stronger 
pull on the oars, and the boat crept away up the stream, 
lessening as it crept, and, turning a curve in the river, was 
lost. Still she sat on, with one hand lying listlessly in her 
lap and the other plucking blades of grass, and making a 
little heap of them beside her, till she had pulled a spot 
quite bare, and the brown earth peeped through between 
the roots. Then she rose, went up to the door of the cot- 
tage, called a good night to Tibbie, and took her way 
home. 



CHAPTER LII. 

My story has not to do with city hfe, in which occur fre- 
quent shocks, changes, and recombinations, but with the 
hfe of a country region ; and is, therefore, "toaUngering 
motion bound," Hke the day, Uke the ripening of a harvest, 
Hke the growth of all good things. But clouds and rainbows 
will come in the quietest skies ; adventures and coincidences 
in the quietest village. 

As Kate and Alec walked along the street, on the way up 
to the castle, one of the coaches from the county town drove 
up with its four thorough-breds. 

" What a handsome fellow the driver is ! " said Kate. 

Alec looked up at the box. There sat Beauchamp with, 
the ribbons in his grasp, handling his horses with composure 
and skill. Beside him sat the owner of the coach, a laird 
of the neighborhood. 

Certainly Beauchamp was a handsome fellow. But a 
sting went through Alec's heart. It was the first time that 
he thought of his own person in comparison with another. 
That she should admire Beauchamp, though he was hand- 
some ! 

The memory even of that moment made him writhe on 
his bed years after ; for a mental and bodily wound are alike 
in this, that after there is but the scar of either left, bad 
weather will revive the torture. His face fell. Kate saw 
it, and did him some injustice. They walked on in silence 
in the shadow of a high wall. Kate looked up at the top 
of the wall and stopped. Alec looked at her. Her face 
was as full of light as a diamond in the sun. He forgot all 
his jealousy. The fresh tide of his love swept it away, or 
at least covered it. On the top of the wall, in the sun, grew 
one wild scarlet poppy, a delicate, transparent glory through 
which the sunlight shone, staining itself red, and almost dis- 
solving the poppy. 

The red light melted away the mist between them, and 
they walked in it up to the ruined walls. Long grass grew 
about them, close to the very door, which was locked, that 
if old Time could not be kept out, younger destroyers might. 
Other walls stood around, vitrified by fire — the remnants of 
an older castle still, about which Jamblichus might have 
spied the lingering phantoms of many a terrible deed. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 247 

They entered by a door in the great tower, under the 
spiky remnants of the spiral stair projecting from the huge 
circular wall. To the right, a steep descent, once a stair, 
led down to the cellars and the dungeon — a terrible place, 
the visible negations of which are horrid, and need no pop- 
ular legends such as Alec had been telling Kate, of a walled- 
up door and a lost room, to add to their influence. It was 
no wonder that when he held out his hand to lead her down 
into the darkness and through winding ways to the mouth 
of the far-off beehive dungeon — it was no wonder, I say, 
that she should shrink and draw back. A few rays came 
through the decayed planks of the door which Alec had 
pushed to behind them and fell upon the rubbish of cen- 
turies sloping in the brown light and damp air down into the 
abyss. One larger ray from the keyhole fell upon Kate's 
face, and showed it blanched with fear, and her eyes dis- 
tended with the effort to see through the gloom. 

At that moment a sweet, low voice came from somewhere 
out of the darkness, saying : 

" Dinna be feared, mem, to gang whaur Alec wants ye to 
gang. Ye can lippen [trust) to him." 

Staring in the direction of the sound, Kate saw the pale 
face of a slender — half child, half maiden — glimmering 
across the gulf that led to the dungeon. She stood in the 
midst of a sepulchral light, whose faintness differed from 
mere obscuration, inasmuch as it told how bright it was out 
of doors in the sun. Annie, I say, stood in this dimness — a 
dusky and yet radiant creature, seeming to throw off from 
her a faint brown light — a lovely, earth-stained ghost. 

" Oh ! Annie, is that you ? " said Alec. 

" Ay is't," Annie answered. 

" This is an old school-fellow of mine," he said, turning to 
Kate, who was looking haughtily at the girl. 

" Oh ! is it ? " said Kate, condescending. 

Between the two, each looking ghostly to the other, lay a 
dark cavern mouth that seemed to go down to Hades. 

** Wonna ye gang doon, mem ? " said Annie. 

" No, thank you," answered Kate, decisively. 

" Alec'll tak' guid care o' ye, mem." 

" Oh ! yes, I dare say ; but I had rather not." 

Alec said nothing. Kate would not trust him then. He 
would not have thought much of it, however, but for what 
had passed. Would she have gone with Beauchamp if he 
had asked her ? Ah ! if he had asked Annie, she too would 



248 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

have turned pale, but she would have laid her hand in his 
and gone with him, 

" Gin ye want to gang up, than," she said, " I'll lat ye see 
the easiest road. It's roun' this way." 

And she pointed to a narrow ledge between the descent 
and the circular wall, by which they could cross to where 
she stood. But Alec, who had no desire for Annie's com- 
pany, declined her guidance, and took Kate up a nearer, 
though more difficult ascent to the higher level. Here all 
the floors of the castle lay in dust beneath their feet, 
mingled with fragments of chimney-piece and battlement. 
The whole central space lay open to the sky. 

Annie remained standing on the edge of the dungeon- 
slope. 

She had been on her way to see Tibbie, when she caught 
a glimpse of Kate and Alec as they passed. Since watch- 
ing them in the boat the evenmg before, she had been long- 
ing to speak to Alec, longing to see Kate nearer. Perhaps 
the beautiful lady would let her love her. She guessed 
where they were going, and across the fields she bounded 
like a fawn, straight as the crows flew home to the precincts 
of that " ancient rest," and reached it before them. She did 
not need to fetch the key, for she knew a hole on the level 
of the grass, wide enough to let her creep through the two 
yards of wall. So she crept in and took her place near the 
door. 

After they had rambled over the lower part of the build- 
ing. Alec took Kate up a small winding stair, past a succes- 
sion of empty doorways like eyeglass sockets, leading no- 
whither, because the floors had fallen. Kate was so fright- 
ened by coming suddenly upon one after another of these 
defenseless openings that by the time she reached the broad 
platform which ran, all bare of parapet or battlement, 
around the top of the tower, she felt faint, and when Alec 
scampered off like a goat to reach the bartizan at the other 
side, she sank in an agony of fear upon the landing of the 
stair. 

Looking down upon her from the top of the little turret, 
Alec saw that she was ill, and returning instantly in great 
dismay, comforted her as well as he could, and got her by 
degrees to the bottom. There was a spot of grass inside 
the walls, on which he made her rest, and as the sun shone 
upon her through one of the ruined windows, he stood so 
that his shadow should fall across her eyes. While he stood 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 249 

thus a Strange fancy seized him. The sun became in his 
eyes a fiery dragon, which having devoured half of the build- 
ing, having eaten the inside out of it, having torn and 
gnawed it everywhere, and having at length reached its ker- 
nel, the sleeping beauty, whose bed had, in the long years, 
moldered away, and been replaced by the living grass, 
would swallow her up anon, if he were not there to stand 
between and defend her. When he looked at her next, she 
had indeed become the sleeping beauty he had fancied her, 
and sleep had already restored the color to her cheeks. 

Turning his eyes up to the tower from which they had 
just descended, he saw looking down upon them from one 
of the isolated doorways the pale face of Patrick Beau- 
champ. Alec bounded to the stair, rushed to the top and 
round the platform, but found nobody. Beginning to doubt 
his eyes, his next glance showed him Beauchamp standing 
over the sleeping girl. He darted down the screw of the 
stair, but when he reached the bottom Beauchamp had 
again disappeared. 

The same moment Kate began to wake. Her first move- 
ment brought Alec to his senses : why should he follow 
Beauchamp ? He returned to her side and they left the 
place, locked the door behind them, took the key to the 
lodge, and went home. 

After tea Alec, believing he had locked Beauchamp into 
the castle, returned and searched the building from top to 
bottom, even got a candle and a ladder and went down into 
the dungeon, found no one, and went home bewildered. 

While Alec was searching the vacant ruin, Beauchamp 
was comfortably seated on the box of the Spitfire, tooling it 
half-way home — namely, as far as the house of its owner, 
the laird above mentioned, who was a relative of his mother, 
and whom he was then visiting. He had seen Kate and 
Alec take the way to the castle and had followed them, and 
found the door unlocked. Watching them about the place, 
he ascended the stair from another approach. The moment 
Alec looked up at him he ran down again, and had just 
dropped into a sort of well-like place which the stair had 
used to fill on its way to a lower level, when he heard Alec's 
feet thundering over his head. Determined then to see 
what the lady was like, for he had never seen her close, or 
without her bonnet, which now lay beside her on the grass, 
he scrambled out, and, approaching her cautiously, had a 
few moments to contemplate her before he saw — for he kept 



250 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

a watch on the tower — that Alec had again caught sight of 
him, when he immediately fled to his former refuge, which 
communicated with a low-pitched story lying between the 
open level and the vaults. 

The sound of the ponderous and rusty bolt reached him 
across the cavernous space. He had not expected their 
immediate departure, and was rather alarmed. His first 
impulse was to try whether he could not shoot the bolt from 
the inside. This he soon found to be impossible. He next 
turned to the windows in the front, but there the ground fell 
away so suddenly that he was many feet from it — an alto- 
gether dangerous leap. He was beginning to feel seriously 
concerned, when he heard a voice : 

" Do ye want to win oot, sir ? They hae lockit the 
door." 

He turned but could see no one. Approaching the door 
again, he spied Annie, in the dark twilight, standing on the 
edge of the descent to the vaults. He had passed the spot 
not a minute before, and she was certainly not there then. 
She looked as if she had just glided up that slope from a 
region so dark that a specter might haunt it all day long. 
But Beauchamp was not of a fanciful disposition, and 
instead of taking her for a specter, he accosted her with easy 
insolence ! 

" Tell me how to get out, my pretty girl, and I'll give you 
a kiss." 

Seized with a terror she did not understand, Annie darted 
into the cavern between them, and sped down its steep into 
the darkness which lay there like a lurking beast. A few 
yards down, however, she turned aside, through a low door- 
way, into a vault. Beauchamp rushed after her, passed her, 
and fell over a great stone lying in the middle of the way. 
Annie heard him fall, sprung forth again, and, flying to the 
upper light, found her way out, and left the discourteous 
knight a safe captive, fallen upon that horrible stair. — A 
horrible stair it was : up and down those steps, then steep 
and worn, now massed into an incline of beaten earth, had 
swarmed, for months together, a multitude of naked chil- 
dren, orphaned and captive by the sword, to and from the 
troughs at which they fed like pigs, amidst the laughter of 
the lord of the castle and his guests ; while he who passed 
down them to the dungeon beyond, had little chance of 
ever retracing his steps upward to the light. 

Annie told the keeper that there was a gentleman shut 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 25 1 

into the castle, and then ran a mile and a half to Tibbie's 
cottage, without stopping. But she did not say a word to 
Tibbie about her adventure. 



CHAPTER LIII. 



A SPIRIT of prophecy, whether from the Lord or not, was 
abroad this summer among the clergy of Glamerton, of all 
persuasions. Nor was its influences confined to Glamerton 
or the clergy. The neighborhood and the laity had their 
share. Those who read their Bibles, of whom there were 
many in that region, took to reading the prophecies, all the 
prophecies, and scarcely any thing but the prophecies. 
Upon these every man, either for himself or following in the 
track of his spiritual instructor, exercised his individual 
powers of interpretation, whose fecundity did not altogether 
depend upon the amount of historical knowledge. But 
whatever was known, whether about ancient Assyria or 
modern Tahiti, found its theoretic place. Of course the 
Church of Rome had her due share of the application from 
all parties ; but neither the Church of England, the Church 
of Scotland, nor either of the dissenting sects, went without 
its portion freely dealt, each of the last finding something 
that applied to all the rest. There were some, however, who 
cared less for such modes, and, themselves given to a daily 
fight with antichrist in their own hearts, sought — for they 
too read the prophecies — to fix their reference on certain 
sins, and certain persons classed according to these their 
sins. With a burning desire for the safety of their neigh- 
bors, they took upon them the strongest words of rebuke 
and condemnation, so that one might have thought they 
were reveling in the idea of the vengeance at hand, instead 
of striving for the rescue of their neighbors from the wrath 
to come. Among these were Thomas Crann and his minis- 
ter, Mr. TurnbuU. To them Glamerton was the center of 
creation, providence and revelation. Every warning finger 
in The Book pointed to it ; every burst of indignation from 
the laboring bosom of the holy prophet was addressed to its 
sinners. And what the ministers spoke to classes from the 
pulpit, Thomas, whose mode of teaching was in so far 



252 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLElf. 

Socratic that he singled out his man, applied to the indi- 
vidual — in language occasionally too much to the point to 
admit of repetition in the delicate ears of the readers of the 
nineteenth century, some of whom are on such friendly 
terms with the vices themselves, that they are shocked at the 
vulgarity and rudeness of the names given them by their 
forefathers. 

" Ye ken weel eneuch that ye're a drucken vratch, Peter 
Peterson. An* ye ken weel eneuch that ye're nane better, 
forbye, than ye sud be. Naebody ever accused ye o' 
stealin'; but gin ye haud on as ye're doin', that'll come neist. 
But I doobt the wrath o' the Almichty'll be doon upo' 's like 
a spate, as it was i' the days o' Noah, afore ye hae time to 
learn to steal, Peter Peterson. Ye'll hae yow share in 
.bringin' destruction upo' this toon, and a' its belongin's. 
The verra kirk-yard winna hide ye that day frae the wrath 
o* Him that sitteth upo' the throne. Tak' ye tent, and 
repent, Peter ; or it'll be the waur for ye." 

The object of this terrible denunciation of the wrath of 
the Almighty was a wretched little object indeed, just like a 
white rabbit — with pink eyes, a gray face and head, poor 
thin legs, a long tail-coat that came nearly to his heels, an 
awfully ragged pair of trowsers, and a liver charred with 
whisky. He had kept a whisky-shop till he had drunk all 
his own whisky ; and as no distiller would let him have any 
on trust, he now hung about the inn-yard, and got a penny 
from one, and twopence from another, for running errands. 
— Had they been sovereigns they would all have gone the 
same way — namely, for whisky. 

He listened to Thomas with a kind of dazed meekness, 
his eyes wandering everywhere except in the direction of 
Thomas's. One who did not know Thomas would have 
thought it cowardly in him to attack such a poor creature. 
But Thomas was just as ready to fly at the greatest man in 
Glamerton. All the evil-doers of the place feared him — the 
rich manufacturer and the strong horse-doctor included. 
They called him a wheezing, canting hypocrite, and would 
go streets out of their way to avoid him. 

But on the present occasion he went too far with Peter. 

" And it's weel kent your dochter Bauby's no better nor 
she sud be ; for—" 

Peter's face flushed crimson, though where the blood 
could have come from was an anatomical mystery ; he held 
up his hands with the fingers crooked like the claws of an 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 253 

animal, for the poor creature had no notion of striking ; and, 
dancing backwards and forwards from one foot to the other, 
and grinning with set teeth in an agony of impotent rage, 
cried out : 

" Tarn Crann, gin ye daur to say anither word against my 
Bauby wi' that foul mou' o' yours, I'll — I'll — I'll — worry ye 
like a mad dog — ye ill-tongued scoonrel ! " 

HLs Bawby had already had two children — one to the rich 
manufacturer, the other to the strong horse-doctor. 

Thomas turned in silence and went away, rebuked and 
ashamed. Next day he sent Peter a pair of old corduroy 
trowsers, into either leg of which he might have been but- 
toned like one of Paddy's twins. 

In the midst of this commotion of mind and speech, good 
Mr. Cowie died. He had taken no particular interest in 
what was going on, nor even in the prophecies themselves. 
Ever since Annie's petition for counsel, he had been think- 
ing, as he had never thought before, about his own relation 
to God ; and had found this enough without the prophecies. 
Now he had carried his thoughts into another world. While 
Thomas Crann was bending his spiritual artillery upon the 
poor crazy tub in which floated the earthly presence of 
Peter Peterson, Mr. Cowie's bark was lying stranded upon 
that shore whither the tide of time is slowly drifting each 
of us. 

He was gently regretted by all — even by Thomas. 

" Ay ! ay ! " he said, with slow emphasis, " long drawn 
out "; '* he's gane, is he, honest man ? Weel, maybe he had 
the root o' the maitter in him, although it made unco little 
show aboon the yird. There was sma' flower and less fruit. 
But jeedgment disna belang to us, ye see, Jean, lass." 

Thomas would judge the living from morning to night ; 
but the dead — he would leave them alone in the better 
hands. 

" I'm thinkin','' he added, " he's been taen awa' frae the 
evil to come — frae seein' the terrible consequences o' sic a 
saft way o' dealin' wi' eternal trowth and wi' perishin' men 
— taen awa' like Eli, whan he brak his neck at the ill news. 
For the fire and brimstanc that overthrew Sodom and 
Gomorrha, is, I doobt, hingin' ower this toon, ready to fa' 
and smore us a'." 

" Hoot ! hoot ! dinna speyk sic awfu' words, Thamas. 
Ye're nae the prophet Jonah, ye ken." 

" Are ye the whaul than, to swallow me and my words 



254 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

thegither, Jean ? I tell ye the wrath o' God maim be roused 
against this toon, for it's been growin' waur and waur for 
mony a year ; till the verra lasses are not to be lippent oot 
them-lanes (alone)." 

" What ken ye aboot the lasses, Thamas ? Hand ye to 
the men. The lasses are nae waur nor in ither pairts. I 
wat I can come and gang whan and whaur I like. Never a 
body says a word to me." 

This was true but hardly significant ; seeing Jean had 
one shoulder and one eye twice the size of the others, to 
say nothing of various obliquities and their compensations. 
But, rude as Thomas was, he was gentleman enough to con- 
fine his reply to a snort and a silence. For had he not 
chosen his housekeeper upon the strength of those personal 
recommendations of the defensive importance of which she 
was herself unaware ? 

Except his own daughters there was no one who mourned 
so deeply for the loss of Mr. Cowie as Annie Anderson. 
She had left his church and gone to the missionars, and 
found more spiritual nourishment than Mr. Cowie's sermons 
could supply, but she could not forget his kisses, or his 
gentle words, or his shilling ; for by their means, although 
she did not know it, Mr. Cowie's self had given her a more 
confiding notion of God, a better feeling of his tenderness, 
than she could have had from all Mr. Turnbull's sermons 
together. What equal gift could a man give ? Was it not 
worth bookfuls of sound doctrine ? Yet the good man, not 
knowing this, had often looked back to that interview, and 
reproached himself bitterly that he, so long a clergyman of 
that parish, had no help to give the only child who ever 
came to him to ask such help. So, when he lay on his 
death-bed, he sent for Annie, the only soul, out of all his 
parish, over which he felt that he had any pastoral cure. 

When, with pale, tearful face, she entered his chamber, 
she found him supported with pillows in his bed. He 
stretched out his arms to her feebly, but held her close to 
his bosom, and wept. 

" I'm going to die, Annie," he said. 

" And go to heaven, sir, to the face o' God," said Annie, 
not sobbing, but with tears streaming silently down her 
face. 

" I don't know, Annie. I've been of no use ; and I'm 
afraid God does not care much for me." 

" If God loves you half as much as I do, sir, ye'll be well 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 255 

off in heaven. And I'm thinkin' he maun love ye mair nor 
me. For, ye see, sir, God's love itsel'." 

"I don't know, Annie. But if ever I win there, which 11 
be more than I deserve, I'll tell him about you, and ask him 
to give you the help that I couldn't give you." 

Love and Death make us all children. — Can Old Age be 
an evil thing, which does the same ? 

The old clergyman had thought himself a good Protest- 
ant at least, but even his Protestantism was in danger now. 
Happily Protestantism was nothing to him now. Nothing 
but God would do now. 

Annie had no answer but what lay in her tears. He called 
his daughter, who stood weeping in the room. She came 
near. 

"Bring my study Bible," he said to her feebly. 

She went and brought it — a large quarto Bible. 

" Here, Annie," said the dying man, " here's my Bible 
that I've made but ower little use o' mysel'. Promise me, 
if ever ye have a house o' your own, that ye'U read out o' 
that book every day at worship. I want you not to forget 
me, as, if all's well, I shall never forget you." 

" That wi7/ I, sir," responded Annie earnestly. 

" And ye'U find a new five-pound note between the leaves. 
Take it for my sake." 

Money ! Ah, well ! Love can turn gold into grace. 

" Yes, sir," answered Annie, feeling this was no time for 
objecting to any thing. 

"And good-by, Annie. I can't speak more." 

He drew her to him again, and kissed her for the last 
time. Then he turned his face to the wall, and Annie went 
home weeping, with the great Bible in her arms. 

In the inadvertence of grief, she ran into the shop. 

" What hae ye gotten there, lassie? " said Bruce, as sharply 
as if she might have stolen it. 

" Mr. Cowie gave me his Bible, 'cause he's dein' himsel', 
and doesna want it ony langer," answered Annie. 

" Lat's luik at it." 

Annie gave it up with reluctance. 

" It's a braw l:)uik, and bonnie buirds — though gowd an' 
purple maittcrs little to tlie Bible. We'll jist lay't upo' the 
room table, an' we'll hae worship oot o' 't whan ony body's 
wi' 's, ye ken." 

" I want it mysel'," objected Annie, in dismay, for 
although she did not think of the money at the moment, 



256 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

she had better reasons for not liking to part with the 

book. 

" Ye can hae't when ye want it. That's eneuch surely." 
Annie could hardly think his saying so enough, however, 

seeing the door of the rootn was kept locked, and Mrs. 

Bruce, patient woman as she was, would have boxed any 

one's ears whom she met coming from within the sacred 

precincts. 



CHAPTER LIV. 



Before the next Sunday Mr. Cowie was dead ; and, 
through some mistake or mismanagement, there was no one 
to preach. So the congregation did each as seemed right 
in his own eyes ; and Mrs. Forbes went to the raissionar 
kirk in the evening to hear Mr. Turnbull. Kate and Alec 
accompanied her. 

By this time Robert Bruce had become a great man in 
the community — after his own judgment at least ; for 
although, with a few exceptions, the missionars yielded him 
the influence he sought, nobody respected him ; they only 
respected his money. He had managed to secure one of 
the most fashionable pews in the chapel ; and now when 
Mrs. Forbes's party entered, and a little commotion rose in 
consequence, they being more of gentlefolk than the place 
was accustomed to entertain, Bruce was the first to walk 
from his seat, and request them to occupy his pew. Alec 
would have passed on, for he disliked the man, but Mrs. 
Forbes having reasons for being complaisant, accepted his 
offer. Colds kept the rest of the Bruces at home, and 
Annie was the only occupant of the pew. She crept up to 
the top of it, like a little shy mouse, to be as far out of the 
way as possible. 

" Come oot, Annie," said Bruce, in a loud whisper. 

Annie came out, with a warm flush over her pale face, 
and Mrs. Forbes entered, then Kate, and last of all, Alec, 
much against his will. Then Annie re-entered, and Bruce 
resumed his place as Cerberus of the pew-door. So Annie 
was seated next to Alec, as she had never been, in church 
or chapel, or even in school, except on that memorable day 
when they were both kept in for the Shorter Catechism. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 257 

But Annie had no feeling of delight and awe like that with 
which Alec sat close to his beautiful cousin. She had a 
feeling of pleasure, no doubt, but the essence of the 
pleasure was faith. She trusted him and believed in him 
as much as she had ever done. In the end, those who trust 
most will find they are nearest the truth. But Annie had 
no philosophy, either worldly or divine. She had only 
common sense, gentleness and faithfulness. She was very 
glad, though, that Alec had come to hear Mr. Turnbull, 
who knew the right way better than any body else, and 
could show it quite as well as Evangelist in the Pilgrim's 
Progress. 

Nor was she far wrong in her judgment of the height of 
Mr. TurnbuU's star, calculated from the horizon of Glamer- 
ton. He was a good man who ventured to think for himself 
— as far as that may be possible for one upon whose spirit 
have converged, even before he was born, the influences 
of a thousand theological ancestors. 

After reading the curses on Mount Ebal, he preached an 
eloquent sermon from the text : 

" Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way ; yet 
saidst thou not ' there is no hope.' " 

He showed his hearers that they had all been seeking 
satisfaction in their own pursuits, in the pride of their own 
way ; that they had been disappointed, even to weariness ; 
and that yet, such was their perversity, they would not 
acknowledge the hopelessness of the pursuit, and turn to 
that God who was ready to pardon, and in whose courts a 
day would give them more delight than a thousand in the 
tents of wickedness. And opening his peroration by pre- 
sumptuously appropriating the words of the Saviour, " Ver- 
ily, verily, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for 
Sodom and Gomorrha, in that day than for you," the preacher 
concluded with a terrible denunciation of wrath upon the 
sinners who had been called and would not come. " Woe 
unto you, for ye would not be warned ! Woe unto you, for 
ye knew 3^our Lord's will, and yet committed things worthy 
of stripes ! Therefore your whip shall be one of scorpions ! 
Woe unto you ! I say ; for, when the bridegroom cometh, 
ye shall knock in vain at the closed door ; ye shall stand 
without, and listen for a brief moment to the music and 
dancing within — listen with longing hearts, till the rush of 
coming wings overpowers the blissful sounds, and the 
angels of vengeance sweep upon you, and bearing you afar 



258 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

through waste regions, cast you into outer darkness, where 
shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, to the 
endless ages of a divine eternity." 

With these words the preacher burst into impassioned 
prayer for the souls which he saw exposed to a hell of which 
he himself knew not the horrors, else he dared not have 
preached it ; a hell the smoke of whose torments would 
arise and choke the elect themselves about the throne of 
God — the hell of Exhausted Mercy. 

As long as the stream of eloquence flowed the eyes of the 
congregation were fixed upon the preacher in breathless 
silence. When it ceased they sank, and a sigh of exhaustion 
and relief arose. In that ugly building, amidst that weary 
praying and inharmonious singing, with that blatant tone, 
and, worse than all, that merciless doctrine, there was yet 
preacJiing — that rare speech of a man to his fellow-men 
whereby in their inmost hearts they know that he in his 
inmost heart believes. There was hardly an indifferent 
countenance in all that wide space beneath, in all those far- 
sloping galleries above. Every conscience hung out the 
red or pale flag. 

When Alec ventured to look up, as he sat down after the 
prayer, he saw the eyes of Thomas Crann, far away in the 
crowd, fixed on him. And he felt their force, though not in 
the way Thomas intended. Thomas never meant to dart 
/^ri-^/'/a/ reproaches across the house of God; but Alec's 
conscience told him nevertheless, stung by that glance, that 
he had behaved ill to his old friend. Nor did this lessen 
the general feeling which the sermon had awakened in his 
mind, un-self-conscious as it was, that something ought to 
be done ; that something was wrong in him somewhere ; 
that it ought to be set right somehow — a feeling which every 
one in the pew shared, except one. His heart was so moth- 
eaten and rusty, with the moths and the rust which Mam- 
mon brings with him when he comes into abide with a man, 
that there was not enough of it left to make the terrible dis- 
covery that the rest of it was gone. Its owner did not 
know that there was any thing amiss with it. What power 
can empty, sweep and garnish such a heart ? Or what 
seven devils entering in, can make the last state of that man 
worse than the first ? 

A special prayer-meeting having been appointed, to be 
held after the sermon, Robert Bruce remained, to join in 
the intercession for the wicked town and its wicked neigh- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 259 

borhood. He even " engaged in prayer," for the first time 
in public, and astonished some of the older members by his 
gift in devotion. He had been received into the church 
only a week or two before, upon profession of faith in the 
merits of Christ, not in Christ himself — that would not have 
been definite enough for them. But it would have been all 
the same to Robert Bruce, for he was ready to believe that 
he believed any thing advantageous. 

There had been one or two murmurs against his recep- 
tion, and he had been several times visited and talked with, 
before the Church was satisfied as to his conversion. But 
nothing was known against him beyond the fact that " he 
luikit at baith sides o' a bawbee ;" and having learned many 
of their idioms, he had succeeded in persuading his exam- 
iners, and had possibly persuaded himself at the same time, 
that he had passed through all the phases of conversion, 
including conviction, repentance, and final acceptance of 
offered mercy on the terms proposed, and was now under- 
going the slow and troublesome process of sanctification ; 
in corroboration of which he went on to produce talk and 
coppers at the chapel-door. Good people as many of those 
were who thus admitted him to their communion, in the full 
belief that none but conscious Christians should enjoy that 
privilege, his reputation for wealth had yet sometliing to do 
with it. Probably they thought that if the gospel proved 
mighty in this new disciple, more of his money might be 
accessible by and by for good purposes : amongst the rest, 
for sending missionaries to the heathen, teaching them to 
divorce their wives and wear trowsers. And now he had 
been asked to pray, and had prayed with much propriety 
and considerable unction. To be sure Tibbie Dyster did 
sniff a good deal during the performance ; but then that 
was a way she had of relieving her feelings, next best to 
that of speaking her mind. 

When the meeting was over, Robert Bruce, Thomas 
Crann, and James Johnstone, who was one of the deacons, 
walked away together. Very little conversation took place 
between them, for no subject but a religious one was admis- 
sible ; and the religious feelings of those who had any were 
pretty nearly exhausted. Bruce's, however, were not in the 
least exhausted. On the contrary, he was so pleased to find 
that he could pray as well as any of them, and the excite- 
ment of doing so before judges had been so new and pleas- 
ant to him, that he thought he should like to try it again. 



26o ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

He thought, too, of the grand Bible lying up there on the 
room-table. 

" Come in, sirs," he said, as they approached his door, 
" and talc' a pairt in our family worship ; and sae the day'll 
gang oot wi' prayer, as it cam' in wi' prayer. And the 
Lord'U maybe hae mercy upo' 's, and no destroy the place, 
shops an' a', for the sins o' the inhaibitants — them 'at sees, 
for them 'at 'sblin'." 

Neither of his companions felt much inclined to accede to 
his request : they both yielded notwithstanding. He con- 
ducted them up stairs, unlocked the musty room, pulled up 
the blinds, and admitted enough of lingering light for the 
concluding devotions of the day. He then proceeded to 
gather his family together, calling them one by one. 

" Mother ! " he cried, from the top of the stair, meaning 
his wife. 

" Yes, father," answered Mrs. Bruce. 

** Come to worship. — Robert ! " 

"Ay, father." 

" Come to worship. — Johnnie ! " 

And so he went through the family roll-call, as if it were 
a part of some strange liturgy. When all had entered and 
seated themselves, the head of the house went slowly to the 
side-table,* took from it reverentially the late minister's study 
Bible, sat down by the window, laid the book on his knees, 
and solemnly opened it. 

Now a five-pound note is not thick enough to make a big 
Bible open between the pages where it is laid ; but the note 
might very well have been laid in a place where the Bible 
was in the habit of opening. Without an instant's hesita- 
tion, Robert slipped it away, and crumpling it up in his hand, 
gave out the twenty-third psalm, over which it had lain, and 
read it through. Finding it too short, however, for the 
respectability of worship, he went on with the twenty-fourth, 
turning the leaf with thumb and forefinger, while the rest 
of the fingers clasped the note tight in his palm, and read- 
ing as he turned : 

" He that hath clean hands and a pure heart — " 

As soon as he had finished this psalm, he closed the book 
with a snap ; feeling which to have been improper, he put 
an additional compensating solemnity into the tone in which 
he said : 

" Thomas Crann, will you engage in prayer ? " 

** Pray yersel'," answered Thomas gruffly. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 261 

Whereupon Robert rose, and, kneeling down, did pray 
himself. 

But Thomas, instead of leaning forward on his chair when 
he kneeled, glanced sharply round at Bruce. He had seen 
him take something from the Bible, and crumple it up in 
his hand, but would not have felt any inclination to speculate 
about it, had it not been for the peculiarly keen expression 
of eager surprise and happy greed which came over his face 
in the act. Having seen that, and being always more or 
less suspicious of Bruce, he wanted to know more ; and was 
thus led into an action of which he would not have believed 
it possible he should ever be guilty. 

He saw Bruce take advantage of the posture of devotion 
which he had assumed, to put something into his pocket 
unseen of his guests, as he believed. 

When worship was over, Bruce did not ask them to stay 
to supper. Prayers did not involve expense ; supper did. 
But Thomas at least could not have staid longer. 

He left his friends and went home pondering. The devo- 
tions of the day were not to be concluded for him with any 
social act of worship. He had many anxious prayers yet to 
offer before his heart would be quiet in sleep. Especially 
there was Alec to be prayed for, and his dawtie Annie ; 
and in truth the whole town of Glamerton, and the surround- 
ing parishes — and Scotland, and the whole world. Indeed 
sometimes Thomas went further, and although it is not 
reported of him that he ever prayed for the devil, as that 
worthiest of Scotch clergymen prayed, he yet did something 
very like it once or twice, when he prayed for *' the haill 
universe o' God, an' a' the bein's in 't, up and doon, that we 
ken unco little aboot." 



CHAPTER LV. 



The next morning Kate and Alec rose early, to walk 
before breakfast to the top of one of the hills, through a 
young larch-wood which covered it from head to foot. The 
morning was cool, and the sun exultant as a good child. 
The dew-diamonds were flashing every where, none the less 
lovely that they were made fresh that morning. The lark's 



262 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

song was a cantata with the sun and the wind and the larch- 
odors, in short, the whole morning for the words. How 
the larks did sing that morning ! The only clouds were 
long, pale, delicate streaks of lovely gradations in gray ; 
here mottled, there swept into curves. It was just the 
morning to rouse a wild longing for motion, for the sea and 
its shore, for endless travel through an endless region of 
grace and favor, the sun rising no higher, the dew lingering 
on every blade, and the lark never wearying for his nest. 
Kate longed for some infinitude of change without vicis- 
situde — ceaseless progress toward a goal endlessly removed ! 
She did not know that the door into that life might have 
been easier to find in that ugly chapel than even here in the 
vestibule of heaven. 

" My nurse used to call the lark ' Our Lady's hen,' " said 
Kate. 

" How pretty ? " answered Alec, and had no more to say. 

" Are the people of Glamerton very wicked. Alec ?" asked 
Kate, making another attempt to rouse a conversation. 

" I'm sure I don't know," answered Alec. *' I suppose 
they're no worse than other people." 

" I thought from Mr. TurnbuU's sermon that they must 
be a great deal worse." 

" Oh ! they all preach like that — except good Mr. Cowie, 
and he's dead." 

" Do you think that he knew better than the rest of 
them ? " 

" I don't know that. But the missionars do know some- 
thing that other people don't know. And that Mr. Turn- 
bull always speaks as if he were in earnest." 

" Yes, he does." 

" But there's that fellow Bruce ! " 

" Do you mean the man that put us into his seat ? " 

" Yes. I cauU think what makes my mother so civil to 
him." 

" Why shouldn't she be ? " 

" Well, you see — I can't bear him ; and I can't under- 
stand my mother. It's not like her." 

In a moment more they were in a gentle twilight of green, 
flashed with streaks of gold. A forest of delicate young 
larches crowded them in, their rich brown cones hanging 
hke the knobs that looped up their dark garments fringed 
with paler green. 

And the scent ! What a thing to t'nvenf — the smell of a 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 263 

larch wood ! It is the essence of the earth-odor, distilled 
in the thousand-fold alembics of those feathery trees. And 
the light winds that awoke blew murmurous music, so sharply 
and sweetly did that keen foliage divide the air. 

Having gazed their fill on the morning around them, they 
returned to breakfast, and after breakfast they went down 
to the river. They stood on the bank, over one of the deep- 
est pools, in the bottom of which the pebbles glimmered 
brown. Kate gazed into it abstracted, fascinated, swinging 
her neckerchief in her hand. Something fell into the water. 

" Oh ! " she cried, " what shall I do ? It was my 
mother's." 

The words were scarcely out of her mouth when Alec 
was in the water. Bubbles rose and broke as he vanished. 
Kate did not scream, but stood, pale, with parted lips, star- 
ing into the pool. With a boiling and heaving of the water, 
he rose triumphant, holding up the brooch. Kate gave a 
cry and threw herself on the grass. When Alec reached 
her, she lay sobbing, and would not lift her head. 

" You are very unkind. Alec," she said at last, looking up. 
" What will your mother say ? " 

And she hid her face and began to sob afresh. 

" It was your mother's brooch," answered Alec. 

" Yes, yes ; but we could have got it out somehow." 

" No other how. I would have done that for any girl. 
You don't know what I would do ior you, Kate." 

" You shouldn't have frightened me. 1 had been think- 
ing how greedy the pool looked," said Kate, rising now, as 
if she dared not remain longer beside it. 

" I didn't mean to frighten you, Kate. I never thought 
of it. I am almost a water rat." 

" And now you'll get your death of cold. Come along." 

Alec laughed. He was in no hurry to go home. But she 
seized his hand and half-dragged him all the way. He had 
never been so happy in his life. 

Kate had cried because he had jumped into the water ! 

That night they had a walk in the moonlight. It was all 
moon — the air with the mooncore in it ; the trees confused 
into each other by the sleep of her light ; the bits of water, 
so many moons over again ; the flowers, all pale phantoms 
of flowers ; the whole earth, transfused with reflex light, 
was changed into a moon-ghost of its former self. They 
were walking in the moon-world. 

The silence and the dimness sank into Alec's soul, and it 



264 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

became silent and dim too. The only sound was the noise 
of the river, quenched in that light to the sleepy hush of 
moon-haunted streams. 

Kate felt that she had more room now. And yet the scope 
of her vision was less, for the dusk had closed in around her. 

She had ampler room because the Material had retired as 
behind a veil, leaving the Immaterial less burdened, and the 
imagination more free to work its will. The Spiritual is 
ever putting on material garments ; but in the moonlight 
the Material puts on spiritual garments. 

Kate sat down at the foot of an old tree which stood alone 
in one of the fields. Alec threw himself on the grass and 
looked up in her face, which was the spirit-moon shining 
into his world and drowning it in dreams. The Arabs 
always call their beautiful women 7noons. Kate sat as silent 
as the moon in heaven, which rained down silence, and Alec 
lay gazing at Kate, till silence gave birth to speech. 

" Oh ! Kate, how I love you ! " he said. 

Kate started. She was frightened. Her mind had been 
full of gentle thoughts. Yet she laid her hand on his arm 
and accepted the love. — But how ? 

" You dear boy ! " she said. 

Perhaps Kate's answer was the best she could have given. 
But it stung Alec to the heart, and they went home in a 
changed silence. 

The resolution she came to upon the way was not so good 
as her answer. 

She did not love Alec so. He could not understand her ; 
she could not look up to him. But he was only a boy, and 
therefore would not suffer much. He would forget her as 
soon as she was out of his sight. So, as he was a very dear 
boy, she would be as kind to him as ever she could, for she 
was going away soon. 

She did not see that Alec would either take what she gave 
for more than she gave, or else turn from it as no gift at all. 

When they reached the house Alec, recovering himself a 
little, requested her to sing. She complied at once, and was 
foolish enough to sing the following 

BALLAD. 

It is May, and the moon leans down all night 

Over a blossomy land. 
By her window sits the lady white, 

With her chin upon her hand. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 265 

* ' O sing to me, dear nightingale, 
The song of a year ago ; 
I have had enough of longing and wail. 
Enough of heart-break and woe. 

O glimmer on me, my apple-tree. 

Like living flakes of snow ; 
Let odor and moonlight and melody 

In the old rich harmony flow." 

The dull odors stream ; the cold blossoms gleam, 

And the bird will not be glad. 
The dead never speak when the living dream — 

They are too weak and sad. 

She listened and sate till night grew late. 

Bound by a weary spell ; 
Then a face came in at the garden gate, 

And a wondrous thing befell. 

Up rose the joy as well as the love, 

In the song, in the scent, in the show ! 
The moon grew glad in the sky above, 

The blossom grew rosy below. 

The blossom and moon, the scent and the tune, 

In ecstasy rise and fall ; 
But they had no thanks for the granted boon, 

For the lady forgot them all. 

There was no light in the room except that of the shining 
air. Alec sat listening, as if Kate were making and mean- 
ing the song. But notwithstanding the enchantment of the 
night, all rosy in the red glow of Alec's heart ; notwith- 
standing that scent of gilly-flowers and sweet-peas stealing 
like love through every open door and window ; notwith- 
standing the radiance of her own beauty, Kate was only 
singing a song. It is sad to have all the love and all the 
mystery to one's self — the other being the center of the glory, 
and yet far beyond its outmost ring, sitting on a music-stool 
at a common piano, old-fashioned and jingling, not in fairy- 
land at all in fact, or even believing in its presence. 

But that night the moon was in a very genial humor, and 
gave her light plentiful and golden. She would even dazzle 
a little, if one looked at her too hard. She could not daz- 
zle Tibbie, though, who was seated with Annie on the pale 
green grass, with the moon about them in the air and be- 
neath them in the water. 

"Ye say it's a fine munelicht nicht, Annie." 



266 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Ay, 'deed is't. As bonnie a nicht as ever I saw." 

" Weel, it jist passes my comprehension hoo ye can see, 
whan the air's Hke this. I* the winter ye canna see, for it's 
aye cauld whan the sun's awa' ; and though it's no cauld 
the nicht, I fin' that there's no Ucht i' the air — there's a 
differ ; it's deid-Uke. But the soun' o' the water's a' the 
same, and the smell o' some o' the flowers is bonnier i' the 
nicht nor i' the day. That's a' verra weel. But hoo ye can 
see whan the sun's awa', I say again, jist passes my com- 
prehension." 

" It's the mune, ye ken, Tibbie." 

" Weel, what's the mune ? I dinna fin' 't. It mak's no 
impress upo' me. Ye canna see sae well ye say, lass !" ex- 
claimed Tibbie, at length, in a triumph of incredulity and 
self-assertion. 

*' Weel, gin ye winna believe me o' yer ain free will, Tib- 
bie, I maun jist gar ye," said Annie. And she rose, and, 
running into the cottage, fetched from it a small pocket 
Bible. 

" Noo, ye jist hearken, Tibbie," she said, as she returned. 
And, opening the Bible, she read one of Tibbie's favorite 
chapters, rather slowly no doubt, but with perfect correct- 
ness. 

" Weel, lassie, I canna mak' held or tail o' 't," 

" I'll tell ye, Tibbie, what the mune aye minds me o'. 
The face o' God's like the sun, as ye hae tellt me, for no 
man cud see him and live." 

" That's no sayin', ye ken," interposed Tibbie, " that we 
canna see him efter we're deid." 

" But the mune," continued Annie, disregarding Tibbie's 
interruption, " maun be like the face o' Christ, for it gies 
licht and ye can luik at it notwithstandin'. The mune'sjist 
like the sun wi' the ower-muckle taen oot o' 't. Or like 
Moses wi' the veil ower's face, ye ken. The fowk cudna 
luik at him till he pat the veil on." 

" Na, na, lass ; that wanna do ; for ye ken his coontenance 
was as the sun shineth in his strength." 

" Ay, but that was efter the resurrection, ye ken. I'm 
thinkin' there had been a kin' o' veil ower his face a' the 
time he was upo' the earth ; and syne whan he gaed whaur 
there war only heavenly een to luik at him, een that could 
bide it, he took it aff." 

" Weel, I wadna wonner. Maybe ye're richt. And gin 
ye be richt, that accounts for the Transfiguration. He jist 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 267 

lifted the veil aff o' 'm a wee, and the glory aneath it lap 
oot wi' a leme like the lichtnin'. But that munelicht ! lean 
mak' naething o' 't." 

" Weel, Tibbie, I canna mak' you oot ony mair nor ye can 
the munelicht. Whiles ye appear to ken a' thing aboot the 
licht, an' ither whiles ye're clean i' the dark." 

" Never ye min' me, lass. I s' be i' the licht some day. 
Noo we'll gang in to the hoose." 



CHAPTER LVI. 



Murdoch Malison, the school-master, was appointed to 
preach in the parish church the following Sunday. He had 
never preached there, for he had been no favorite with Mr. 
Cowie. Now, however, that the good man was out of the 
way, they gave him a chance, and he caught at it, though 
not without some misgivings. In the school-desk, "he was 
like a maister or a pope ;" but the pulpit — how would he fill 
that ? Two resolutions he came to : the first that he would 
not read his sermon, but commit it and deliver it as like the 
extempore utterance of which he was incapable as might be 
— a piece of falsehood entirely understood, and justified by 
Scotch customs ; the second, to take rather more than a hint 
from the fashion of preaching now so much in favor 
amongst the seceders and missionars : he would be a 
Jupiter tonans, wielding the forked lightnings of the law 
against the sins of Glamerton. 

So, on the appointed day, having put on a new suit of 
black, and the gown over it, he ascended the pulpit stairs, 
and, conscious of a strange timidity, gave out the psalm. 
He cast one furtive glance around, as he took his seat for 
the singing, and saw a number of former as well as present 
pupils gathered to hear him, amongst whom were the two 
Truffeys, with their grandfather seated between them. He 
got through the prayer very well, for he was accustomed to 
that kind of thing in the school. But when he came to the 
sermon, he found that to hear boys repeat their lessons and 
punish them for failure, did not necessarily stimulate the 
master's own memory. 

He gave out his text : The Book of the Prophet Joel, 



268 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

first chapter, fourth verse. Joel, first and fourth. " That 
which the palmer-worm hath left, hath the locust eaten ; and 
that which the locust hath left, hath the canker-worm eaten ; 
and that which the canker-worm hath left, hath the cater- 
pillar eaten." 

Now, if he could have read his sermon, it would have 
shown itself a most creditable invention. It had a general 
introduction upon the temporal punishment of sin ; one 
head entitled, " The completeness of the infliction ;" and 
another, " The punishment of which this is the type ;" the 
latter showing that those little creeping things were not to 
be compared to the great creeping thing, namely, the worm 
that never dies. These two heads had a number of horns 
cstWcd particulars ; and a tail called an application, in which 
the sins of his hearers were duly chastised, with vague and 
awful threats of some vengeance not confined to the life to 
come, but ready to take present form in such a judgment as 
that described in the text. 

But he had resolved not to read his sermon. So he began 
to repeat it, with sweeps of the hands, pointings of the fin- 
gers, and other such tricks of second-rate actors, to aid the 
self-delusion of his hearers that it was a genuine present 
outburst from the soul of Murdoch Malison. For they all 
knew as well as he did, that his sermon was only " cauld 
kail het again." But some family dishes — Irish stew, for 
example, or Scotch broth — may be better the second day 
than the first •„ and where was the harm ? All concerned 
would have been perfectly content, if he had only gone on 
as he began. But, as he approached the second head, the 
fear suddenly flashed through his own that he would 
not be able to recall it ; and that moment all the future of 
his sermon was a blank. He stammered, stared, did noth- 
ing, thought nothing — only felt himself in hell. Roused 
by the sight of the faces of his hearers growing suddenly 
expectant at the very moment when he had nothing more to 
give them, he gathered his seven fragmentary wits, and 
as a last resort, to which he had had a vague regard in put- 
ting his manuscript in his pocket, resolved to read the 
remainder. But in order to give the change of mode an 
appearance of the natural and suitable, he managed with 
a struggle to bring out the words : 

" But, my brethren, let us betake ourselves to the written 
testimony." 

Every one concluded he was going to quote from Scrip- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 269 

ture ; but instead of turning over the leaves of the Bible, he 
plunged his hand into the abysses of his coat. Horror of 
horrors for the poor autocrat ! — the pocket was as empty as 
his own memory ; in fact it was a mere typical pocket, 
typical of the brains of its owner. The cold dew of agony 
broke over him ; he turned deadly pale ; his knees smote 
one another ; but he made yet, for he was a man of strong 
will, a final frantic effort to bring his discourse down the 
inclined plane of a conclusion. 

" In fine," he stammered, " my beloved brethren, if you do 
not repent and be converted and return to the Lord, you will 
— you will — you will have a very bad harvest." 

Having uttered this solemn prediction, of the import of 
which he, like some other prophets, knew nothing before he 
uttered it, Murdoch Malison sat down, a stickit minister. 
His brain was a vacuum ; and the thought of standing up 
again to pray was intolerable. No more could he sit there ; 
for if he sat, the people would sit too. Something must be 
done, and there was nobody to do any thing. He must get 
out and then the people would go home. But how could he 
escape ? He durst not go down that pulpit stair in the 
sight of the congregation. — He cared no more for his 
vanished reputation. His only thought was how to get 
out. 

Meantime the congregation was variously affected. Some 
held down their heads and laughed immoderately. These 
were mostly of Mr. Malison's scholars, the fine edge of 
whose nature, if it ever had any, had vanished under the 
rasp of his tortures. Even Alec, who, with others of the 
assembly, held down his head from sympathetic shame, 
could not help remembering how the master had made 
Annie Anderson stand upon the form, and believing for 
the time in a general retribution in kind. 

Andrew Truffey was crying bitterly. His sobs were heard 
through the church, and some took them for the sobs of 
Murdoch Malison, who had shrunk into the pulpit like a 
snail into its shell, so that not an atom of his form was to 
be seen except from the side-galleries. The maiden 
daughter of the late school-master gave a shriek, and went 
into a small fit ; after which an awful, quite sepulchral 
silence reigned for a few moments, broken only by those 
quivering sobs from Truffey, whom his grandfather was 
feebly and ineffectually shaking. 

At length the precentor, George Macwha, who had for 



270 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

some time been turning over the leaves of his psalm-book, 
came to the rescue. He rose in the lectern and gave out 
The hundred and fifty -first psalm. The congregation could 
only find a hundred and fifty, and took the last of the 
psalms for the one meant. But George, either from old 
spite against the tormentor of boys and girls, or from mere 
coincidence — he never revealed which — had chosen in real- 
ity a part of the fifty first psalm. 

" The hunner an' fifty-first psalm," repeated George, 
" from the fifteent verse. An' syne we'll gang hame. 

My closed lips, O Lord, by thee, 
Let them be opened. " 

As soon as the singing was over, George left the desk, 
and the congregation following his example, went strag- 
gling out of the church, and home, to wait with doubtful 
patience for the broth which as yet could taste only of 
onions and the stone that scoured the pot. 

As soon as the sounds of retiring footsteps were heard no 
more in the great echoing church, uprose, like one of 
Dante's damned out of a torture-tomb, the form of Murdoch 
Malison, above the edge of the pulpit. With face livid as 
that of a corpse, he gave a scared look around, and not 
seeing little Truffey concealed behind one of the pillars, 
concluded the place empty, and half crawled, half tumbled 
down the stair to the vestry, where the sexton was awaiting 
him. It did not restore his lost composure to discover, in 
searching for his handkerchief, that the encumbrance of the 
gown had made him put his hand ten times into the same 
pocket, instead of five times into each, and that in the other 
his manuscript lay as safe as it had been useless. 

But he took his gown off very quietly, put on his coat 
and forgot the bands, bade the old sexton a gentle good day, 
and stole away home through the streets. He had wanted 
to get out, and now he wanted to get in ; for he felt very 
much as Lady Godiva would have felt if her hair or her 
heroism had proved unworthy of confidence. 

Poor Murdoch had no mother and no wife : he could not 
go home and be comforted. Nor was he a youth, to whom 
a first failure might be of small consequence. He was five 
and forty, and his head was sprinkled with gray ; he was 
school-master, and every body knew him ; he had boys under 
him. As he walked along the deserted streets, he felt that 
he was running the gauntlet of scorn ; but every one who 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 271 

saw him coming along with his head sunk on his bosom, 
drew back from the window till he had gone by. Return- 
ing to the window to look after him, they saw, about twenty 
yards behind him, a solitary little figure, with tears running 
down its face, stumping slowly step by step, and keeping 
the same distance after the dejected master. 

When Mr. Malison went into the vestry, Truffey had gone 
into the porch, and there staid till he passed on his way 
home. Then with stealthily set crutch, putting it down as 
the wild beast sets down his miching paw, out sprang Truffey 
and after the master. But however silently Truffey might 
use his third leg, the master heard the stump-stump behind 
him, and felt that he was followed home every foot of the 
way by the boy whom he had crippled. He felt, too, in 
some dim degree which yet had practical results, that the 
boy was taking divine vengeance upon him, heaping on his 
head the coals of that consuming fire which is love, which is 
our God. And when the first shame was over, the thought 
of Truffey came back with healing on his lonely heart. 

When he reached his own door, he darted in and closed 
it behind, as if to shut out the whole world through which 
he had passed with that burden of contempt upon his 
degraded shoulders. He was more ashamed of his failure 
than he had been sorry for lamenting Truffey. But the 
shame would pass ; the sorrow would endure. 

Meantime two of his congregation, sisters, poor old mutched 
wtfics, were going home together. They were distantly 
related to the school-master, whom they regarded as the 
honor of the family, as their bond of relation with the world 
above them in general and with the priesthood in particular. 
So when Elspeth addressed Meg with reference to the ser- 
mon in a manner which showed her determination to 
acknowledge no failure, Meg took her cue directly. 

" Eh ! woman ; it's a sair ootluik for puir fowk like us, 
gin things be gaein' that gait ! " 

" And 'deed it's that, lass ! Gin the hairst be gaein' to 
the moles and the bats, it's time we war awa hame ; for it'll 
be a cauld winter." 

" Ay, that it will ! The minister was sair owercome at 
the prospec', honest man. It was a' he cud do, to win at the 
en' o' his discoorseohn grutten ootricht." 

" He sees into the will o' the Almichty, He's far ben wi' 
Him — that's verra clear." 

" Ay, lass, ay." 



272 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

And hence, by slow degrees, in the middle of the vague 
prophecies of vengeance gathered a more definite kernel of 
prediction, believed by some, disbelieved, yet feared, by 
others — that the harvest would be so eaten of worms and 
blasted with smut, that bread would be up to famine prices, 
and the poor would die of starvation. 

But still the flowers came out and looked men in the face 
and went in again ; and still the sun shone on the evil and 
on the good, and still the rain fell on the just and on the 
unjust. 

And still the denunciations from the pulpits went on ; but 
the human souls thus exposed to the fires seemed only to 
harden under their influences. 



CHAPTER LVII. 



Before the period of Kate's visit arrived, a letter from 
Professor Fraser, to the purport that if Mrs. Forbes did not 
mind keeping Kate a little longer he would be greatly 
indebted to her, came to Alec like a reprieve from execution. 
And the little longer lengthened into the late harvest of that 
country. 

The summer shone on, and the corn grew, green and 
bonnie. And Alec's love grew with the corn ; and Kate 
liked him better and better, but was not a whit more inclined 
to fall in love with him. 

One night, after the house was quiet, Alec, finding he 
could not sleep, rose and went out to play the ghost a while. 
It was a sultry night. Great piles of clouds were heaped up 
in the heavens. The moon gleamed and vanished by fits, 
looking old and troubled when she sighed herself out of a 
cloud. 

" There's a storm coming," said Alec to himself ; and 
watched and waited. There was no wind below. The leaves 
of the black poplar, so ready to tremble, hung motionless ; 
and not a bat came startling on its unheard skinny wing. 
But ere long a writhing began in the clouds overhead, and 
they were twisted and torn about the moon. Then came a 
blinding flash, and a roar of thunder, followed by a bellow- 
ing, as if the air were a great drum, on which Titanic hands 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. .273 

were beating and rolling. Then the rain poured down, and 

the scent of the earth rose into the air. Alec ran to look 
up at Kate's window. His heart bounded when he saw a 
white figure looking out into the stormy dark. 

" Kate ! Kate ! " he cried, in a loud whisper, " come out 
— do come out. It's so splendid ! " 

She started and drew back. Presently she reappeared, 
and opening the window, said : 

" Alec ! do come in." 

" No, no. You come out, Kate. You don't know what 
it's like. You have only to get into bed again," 

Kate hesitated. But in a moment more she withdrew. 
Alec saw she meant to come, and flew round to the door. 
In a few minutes she glided silently out, and fronted the 
black sky. The same moment another flash, in which her 
spirit seemed to her to be universal, flung the darkness aside. 
She could have counted the houses of Glamerton. The hills 
rose up within her very soul. The Glamour shone in silver. 
The harvest gleamed in green. The larch-forest hung like 
a cloud on the horizon. Then the blank dark folded again 
its scared wings over the world ; and the trees rustled their 
leaves with one wavy sweep, and were still. And again the 
rain came down in a tumult — warm, genial summer rain, full 
of the life of lightning. Alec stood staring through the dull 
dark, as if he would see Kate by the force of his will alone. 
The tempest in the heavens had awakened a like tempest in 
his bosom : would the bosom beside his receive his light- 
ning and calm his pent-up storm by giving it space to rave ? 
His hand took hers beseechingly. Another flash came, and 
he saw her face. The whole glory of the night gloomed and 
flashed and flowed in that face. But alas ! its response 
was to the stormy heaven alone, not to the stormy human 
soul. As the earth answers the heaven with lightning of 
her own, so Kate, herself a woman-storm, responded to the 
elemental cry. 

Her shawl had fallen back, and he saw a white arm 
uplifted, bare to the shoulder, gleaming through the night, 
and an eye flashing through the flood that filled it. He could 
not mistake her passion. He knew that it was not for him ; 
that she was a harp played upon by the elements ; yet, pas- 
sioned still more with her passion, he cried aloud : 

" Oh, Kate ! if you do not love me I shall die." 

Kate started, and sought to take her hand from his, but 
she could not. 



274 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Let me go, Alec," she said pleadingly. 

His fingers relaxed, and she sped into the house like a 
bird, leaving him standing in the night. 

There was no more lightning. The rain fell heavy and 
persistent. The wind rose. And when the dawn came, the 
clouds were drifting over the sky ; and the day was a wet, 
gray, fringy mass of wind and rain and cloud, tossing trees, 
and corn hard bested. 

He rose and dragged himself away. He had thrown him- 
self upon the grass, and had burned there till his exhausted 
feelings lay like smoldering fire under the pale ashes of the 
dawn. 

When Kate made her appearance at breakfast she looked 
bright and cold. She had told his mother about last night, 
though how much he could only guess. When he asked her 
whether he might not read to her, she only said : 

" If you like." 

Whereupon he did not like. 

It was a dreary day. He crept about the house like a 
child in disgrace, and the darkness seemed an age in com- 
ing. When the candles were brought, he went to bed ; and 
when his mother went up, she found him asleep, but fever- 
ish. When he woke he was delirious. 

For a week there was nothing but wet and windy weather. 
Alec was in bed. Kate was unhappy. Mrs. Forbes was 
anxious. 

The corn was badly lodged. Patches lay prone, tangled, 
spiky, and rough ; and it was evident that if sunshine, 
strong, healthy sunshine, did not soon break out, the 
wretched moon-calf-prediction of Murdoch Malison would 
come true, for the corn, instead of ripening, would start a 
fresh growth, and the harvest would be a very bad one 
indeed, whether the people of Glamerton repented or 
not. 

But after a grievous week, that blessed sunshine did come. 
The corn rose up from its low estate, looked at the sun, 
gathered heart, and began to ripen diligently. 

But Alec was very ill, and did not see Kate for weeks. 

Through his wanderings — so strangely does the thousand 
times o'erwritten palimpsest of the brain befool the mind 
and even the passions by the redawning of old traces — he 
talked on about Annie and their schooldays with Mr. Mali- 
son, and never mentioned Kate. 

Annie went often to inquire after him, and Mrs, Forbes 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 275 

behaved to her with her old kindness — just a little diluted 
by anxiety and the possession of Kate. 

When Annie thought with herself what she could do for 
him, she could never think of any thing except saying sangs 
to him. But the time for that was long gone by. So, like 
many other devotions, hers found no outlet but in asking 
how he was. 

At length, one day he was brought down to the dining- 
room and laid upon the sofa. Then for the first time since 
his illness he saw Kate. He looked in her face pitifully 
and kissed her hand. She put her face down to his. The 
blood surged up into his cheek, and the light into his eyes, 
and he murmured : 

" This is worth being ill for, Kate. I would be ill again 
for that." 

She could only say hush, and then kiss him again, lest he 
should be hurt, thinking with a soundless sigh : 

" I shall be forced to marry him some day." 

And he was neither her own virgin-born ideal ; nor had 
his presence the power to beget another and truer ideal in 
her brain. 

From that day he made rapid progress. Kate would 
read to him for hours ; and when for love and weakness — 
an ill-matched pair — he could not look in her face any 
more, he would yet lie and listen, till her voice filled him 
with repose, and he slept in music. 



CHAPTER LVni, 



On the Monday morning after his terrible failure Mr. 
Malison felt almost too ill to go to the school. But he 
knew that if he gave in he must leave the place. And he 
had a good deal of that courage which enables a man to 
front the inevitable, and reap, against his liking, the bene- 
fits that spring from every fate steadfastly encountered. 
So he went, keeping a calm exterior over the shame and 
mortification that burned and writhed within him. He 
prayed the morning prayer, falteringly but fluently ; called 
up the Bible-class ; corrected their blunders with an effort 
over himself which imparted its sternness to the tone of the 



276 aLEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

correction and made him seem oblivious of his own, though 
in truth the hardest task he had ever had was to find fault 
that Monday ; in short, did every thing as usual, except 
bring out the tag. How could he punish failure who had 
himself so shamefully failed in the sight of them all ? And, 
to the praise of Glamerton be it recorded, never had there 
been a quieter day, one of less defiance of law, than that 
day of the master's humiliation. In the afternoon Andrew 
Truffey laid a splendid bunch of cottage-flowers on his 
desk, and the next morning it was so crowded with offer- 
ings of the same sort that he had quite a screen behind 
which to conceal his emotion. 

Wonderful, let me say once more, is the divine revenge ! 
The children would wipe away the humiliation of their 
tyrant ! His desk, the symbol of merciless law, the ark 
containing no pot of manna, only the rod that never budded, 
became an altar heaped with offerings, behind which the 
shamed divinity bowed his head and acknowledged a power 
greater than that of stripes — overcome by his boys, who 
hated spelling and figures, hated yet more the Shorter 
Catechism, could hardly be brought to read the book of 
Leviticus with decency, and hated to make bricks without 
straw ; and yet, forgetting it all, loved the man beneath 
whose lashes they had writhed in torture. In his heart the 
master vowed, with a new love which loosed the millstone 
of many offenses against the little ones, that had for years 
been hanging about his neck — vowed that, be the shame 
what it might, he would never leave them, but spend his 
days in making up for the hardness of his heart and hand ; 
vowed that he himself would be good, and so make them 
good ; that he would henceforth be their friend, and let 
them know it. Blessed failure ending in such a victory ! 
Blessed purgatorial pulpit ! into which he entered full of 
self and self ends ; and from which he came down disgusted 
with that paltry self as well as with its deserved defeat. 
The gates of its evil fortress were now undefended, for 
Pride had left them open in scorn ; and Love, in the form 
of flower-bearing children, rushed into the citadel. The 
heart of the master was forced to yield, and the last state of 
that man was better than the first. 

"Swift Summer into the Autumn flowed," and yet there 
was no sign of the coming vengeance of heaven. The green 
corn turned pale at last before the gaze of the sun. The 
life within had done its best, and now shrank back to the 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 277 

earth, leaving the isolated life of its children to the ripening 
of the heavens. Anxious farmers watched their fields, and 
joyfully noted every shade of progress. All day the sun 
shone strong ; and all night the moon leaned down from 
heaven to see how things were going on, and keep the work 
gently moving, till the sun should return to take it up again. 
Before he came, a shadowy frost would just breathe on the 
earth, which, although there was only death in its chill, yet 
furthered the goings on of life in repelling the now use- 
less sap, and so helping the sun to dry the ripening ears. 
At length the new revelation of ancient life was complete, 
and the corn stood in living gold, and men began to put in 
the sickle, because the time of harvest was come. 

And with it came the hairst-play, the event of school-life 
both to master and scholars. But the feelings with which 
the master watched and longed for it were sadly different 
from those of the boys. It was delight itself to the latter to 
think of having nothing to do on those glorious hot days 
but to gather blaeberries, or lie on the grass, or bathe in 
the Glamour and dry themselves in the sun ten times a 
day. For the master, he only hoped to get' away from the 
six thousand eyes of Glamerton. Not one allusion had 
been made in his hearing to his dismal degradation, but he 
knew that that was only because it was too dreadful to be 
alluded to. Every time he passed a woman with a baby in 
her arms at a cottage door, the blind eyes in the back of 
his head saw her cuddling her child, and the ears that are 
always hearing what never was said, heard her hope that he 
would never bring such disgrace upon himself and upon 
her. The tone of additional kindness and consideration 
with which many addressed him, only made him think of 
what lay behind, and refuse every invitation given him. 
But if he were once " in secret shadow far from all men's 
sight," his oppressed heart would begin to revive, and he 
might gather strength to face with calmness what he would 
continue to face somehow, in the performance of his arrears 
of duty to the boys and girls of Glamerton. 

Can one ever bring up arrears of duty ? Can one ever 
make up for wrong done ? Will not heaven be an endless 
repentance ? 

It would need a book to answer the first two of these 
questions. To the last of them I answer, " Yes — but a glad 
repentance." 

At length the slow hour arrived. Longing thoughts had 



278 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

almost obliterated the figures upon Time's dial, and made 
it look a hopeless, undivided circle of eternity. But at length 
twelve o'clock on Saturday came ; and the delight would 
have been almost unendurable to some, had it not been 
calmed by the dreary proximity of the Sabbath lying 
between them and freedom. To add to their joy, there was 
no catechism that day. The prayer, although a little longer 
than usual, was yet over within a minute after the hour. 
And almost as soon as the Amen was out of the master's 
mouth, the first boys were shouting jubilantly in the open 
air. Truffey, who was always the last, was crutching it out 
after the rest, when he heard the master's voice calling him 
back. He obeyed it with misgiving — so much had fear 
become a habit. 

" Ask your grandfather, Andrew, if he will allow you to 
go down to the seaside with me for a fortnight or three 
weeks," said the master. 

" Yes, sir," Truffey meant to say, but the attempt pro- 
duced in reality an unearthly screech of delight, with which 
he went off on a series of bounds worthy of a kangaroo, 
lasting all the way to his grandfather's, and taking him 
there in half the usual time. 

And the master and Truffey did go down to the sea 
together. The master borrowed a gig and hired a horse 
and driver ; and they sat all three in the space meant for 
two, and their boxes went by the carrier. To happy 
Truffey a lame leg or two was not to be compared 
with the exultant glory of that day. Was he not the 
master's friend henceforth ? And was he not riding in a 
gig — bliss supreme ? And was not the harvest around 
them, the blue tent of the sun over their heads, and the sea 
somewhere before them ? Truffey was prouder than Mr. 
Malison could have been if, instead of the result of that 
disastrous Sunday, he had been judged to surpass Mr. 
TurnbuU in pulpit gifts, as he did in scholastic require- 
ments. And if there be as much joy in the universe, what 
matter how it be divided ? — whether the master be raised 
from the desk to the pulpit, or Truffey have a ride in a 

About this time Tibbie, sitting too late one evening upon 
the grass, caught a bad cold and cough, and was for a 
fortnight confined to bed. Within two days Annie became 
her constant companion — that is, from the moment the play 
commenced. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 279 

" I tell't ye I wad hae the licht afore lang," she said the 
first time Annie came to her. 

" Hoots, Tibbie ! It's only an ill caud an' a host," said 
Annie, who from being so much with her and Thomas had 
caught the modes of an elderly woman. " Ye maunna be 
doonhertit." 

" Doonhertit ! The lassie's haverin' ! Wha daured to 
say that I was doonhertit within sicht o' the New Jerusa- 
lem ? Order your words better, lassie, or else haud yer 
tongue." 

" I beg your pardon, Tibbie. It was ill-considered. But 
ye see hooever willin' ye may be to gang, we're nane sae 
willin' to lat gang the grip o' ye." 

" Ye'U be a hantle better withoot me, lass. Oh, my heid! 
And the host's jist like to rive me in bits, as the prophets 
rave their claes whan the fowk contred them ower sair to 
bide. Aweel ! This body's nothing but a wheen claes to 
my soul ; and no verra weel made either, for the holes for 
my een war forgotten i' the makin'. I'm bit jokin', lassie ; 
for it was the Lord's han' that made and mismade my claes ; 
and I'm weel willin' to wear them as lang's he likes. Jist 
mak' a drappy o' stoorum to me. Maybe it'll ile my thrap- 
ple a bit. I winna be lang ahin Eppie Shawn." 

That was the woman who had occupied the other end of 
the cottage and had died in the spring. 

So Annie waited on Tibbie day and night. And that year, 
for the first time since she came to Glamerton, the harvest 
began without her. But when Tibbie got a little better, she 
used to run out now and then to see what progress the 
reapers were making. 

One bright forenoon Tibbie, feeling better, said to her, 

" Noo, bairn, I'm a hantle better the day, and ye maun 
jist rin oot and play yersel'. Ye're but a bairn, though ye 
hae the wit o' a wumman. Ye'U be laid up yersel' gin ye 
dinna get a stammachfu' o' the caller air noo and than. Sae 
jist rin awa', an' dinna lat me see ye afore denner-time." 

At Howglen there happened, this year, to be a field of 
oats not far from the house, the reaping of which was to 
begin that day. It was very warm, and glorious with sun- 
shine. So, after a few stooks had been set up. Alec crawled 
out with the help of his mother and Kate, and lay down on 
some sheaves, sheltered from the sun by a stook, and watched. 
The men and women and corn leaned all one way. The oats 
hung their curved heads of little pendulous bells, and gave 



28o ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

out a low murmuring sibilation — its only lament that its day 
was over, and sun and wind no more for it. Through the 
high stalks gleamed now and then the lowly corn flower, and 
he watched for the next blue star that would shine out as 
they cut the golden cloud away. But the sun rose till the 
stook could shelter him no more. First came a flickering 
of the shadows of the longest heads athwart his face, and 
then the sun shone full upon him. His mother and Kate 
had left him for a while, and, too weak or too lazy to move, 
he lay with closed eyes, wishing that some one would come 
to his help. Nor had he to wait long. A sudden shadow 
came over him. When he looked up to find the source of 
the grateful relief, he could see nothing but an apron held 
up in two little hands behind the stook — hiding both the sun 
and the face of the helper. . . . 

" Who's there ? " he asked. 

" It's me — Annie Anderson," came from behind the un- 
moving apron. 

Now why would not Alec accept this attention from 
Annie ? 

" Dinna stan' there, Annie," he said. *' I dinna want it. 
My mother will be here in a minute. I see her comin'." 

Annie dropped her arms, and turned away in silence. If 
Alec could have seen her face, he would have been sorry 
that he had refused her service. She vanished in a moment, 
so that Mrs. Forbes and Kate never saw her. They sat 
down beside him so as to shelter him, and he fell fast asleep. 
When he woke he found his head in Kate's lap, and her 
parasol casting a cool green shadow over him. His mother 
had gone again. Having made these discoveries, he closed 
his eyes, and pretending to be still asleep, lay in a waking 
dream. But dreams themselves must come to an end. Kate 
soon saw that his face was awake, although his eyes were 
closed. 

" I think it is time we went into the house, Alec," she 
said. " You have been asleep nearly an hour," 

" Happy so long, and not know it ? " returned he, looking 
up at her from where he lay. 

Kate blushed a little. I think she began to feel that he 
was not quite a boy. But he obeyed her like a child, and 
they went in together. 

When Annie vanished among the stocks after the rejec- 
tion of her offered shadow, a throbbing pain at her heart 
kept her from returning to the reapers. She wandered away 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 251 

up the field toward a little old cottage in which some of the 
farm servants resided. She knew that Thomas Crann was 
at work there and found him busy rough-casting the outside 
of it. 

" Ye're busy harlin', Thomas," said Annie, for the sake of 
saying something. 

" Ay, jist helpin' to mak' a heepocreet," answered Thomas, 
with a nod and a grim smile, as he threw atrowelful of mor- 
tar mixed with small pebbles against the wall. 

" What mean ye by that ? " rejoined Annie. 

" Gin ye kent this auld bothie as weel as I do, ye wadna 
need to spier that question. It sud hae been pu'ed doon 
fra the riggin to the fundation a century afore noo. And 
here we're pittin' a clean face upo' 't, garrin' 't luik as gin it 
micht Stan' anither century, and nobody had a richt to luik 
asclent at it." 

" It luiks weel eneuch." 

" I tell't ye that I was makin' a heepocreet. There's no 
a soul wants this hoose to stan' but the mistress doon there, 
that doesna want to waur the siller, and the rottans inside 
the wa's o' 't, that doesna want to fa' into the cluiks o' 
Bawdrins and Colley — wha lie in wait for sic like jist as the 
deevil does for the sowl o' the heepocreet. Come oot o' the 
sun, lassie. This auld hoose is no a'thegither a heepocreet : 
it can haud the sun alf o' ye yet." 

Thomas had seen Annie holding her hand to her head, an 
action occasioned partly by the heat and partly by the rebuff 
Alec had given her. She stepped into the shadow beside him, 

" Isna the warl' fu' o' bonnie things cheap?" Thomas 
went on. " The sun's fine and het the day. And syne whan 
he's ma'r nor we can bide, there's lots o' shaidows lyin' aboot 
upo' the face o' the warl'; though they say there's some 
countries whaur they're scarce, and the shaidow o' a great 
rock's thought something o' in a weary Ian' ! But we sudna 
think less o' a thing 'cause there's plenty o' 't. We hae a 
heap o' the gospel, but we dinna think the less o' 't for that. 
Because ye see it's no whether shaidows be dear or no that 
we think muckle or little o' them, but whether we be richt 
het and tired whan we win till ane o' them. It's that 'at 
makes the differ." 

Sorrow herself will reveal one day that she was only the 
beneficent shadow of Joy. 

Will Evil ever show herself the beneficent shadow of 
Good ? 



282 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Whaur got Robert Bruce that gran' Bible, Annie, do ye 
ken ? " resumed Thomas, after whitening his hypocrite in 
silence for a few moments. 

" That's my Bible, Thomas. Auld Mr. Cowie gae't to me 
whan he was lyin' nearhan' deith. 

" Hm ! hm ! ay ! ay ! And hoo cam' 't that ye didna tak' 
it and pit it i' yer ain kist ? " 

" Maister Bruce tuik it and laid it i' the room as sune's I 
brocht it hame." 

" Did Maister Cowie say ony thing to ye aboot ony thing 
that was in't, no ? " 

" Ay, did he. He spak' o' a five-poun' note that he had 
pitten in't. But whan I luikit for't, I cudna fin' 't." 

" Ay ! ay ! Whan did ye luik for't ? " 

*' I forgot it for twa or three days — maybe a week." 

" Do ye min' that Sunday nicht that twa or three o' 's cam* 
hame wi' Bruce, and had worship wi' him an' you ?" 

" Ay, weel eneuch. It was the first time he read oot o' 
my Bible." 

" Was't afore or efter that 'at ye luikit for the nott ? " 

" It was the neist day ; for the sicht o' the Bible pat it i' 
my min'. I oughtna to hae thocht aboot it o' the Sawbath ; 
but it cam' o' 'tsel' ; and I didna luik till the Monday 
mornin', afore they were up. I reckon Mr. Cowie forgot to 
put it in efter a'." 

" Hm ! hm ! Ay ! ay ! Weel, ye see, riches taks to them- 
sel's wings and flees awa' ; and sae we maunna set oor herts 
upo' them, for it's no manner o' use. We get nothing by 't. 
The warst bank that a man can lay up his siller in is his ain 
hert. And I'll tell ye hoo that is. Ye ken whan meal's laid 
up ower lang it breeds worms and they eat the meal. But 
they do little hairm forbye, for they're saft craters, and their 
teeth canna do muckle ill to the girnel. But there's a kin' 
o' roost that gathers and a kin' o' moth that breeds i' the 
gowd and siller whan they're laid up i' the hert ; and the 
roost's an awfu' thing for eatin' awa', and the moth-craters 
hae teeth as hard's the siller that breeds them ; and instead 
o' eatin' the siller, like the meal-worms, they fa' upo' the gir- 
nel itsel' — that's the hert ; and afore lang the hert itsel's 
roostit awa' wi' the roost, and ridlet through and through 
wi' the moths, till it's a naisty fushionless thing, o' no use to 
God or man, not even to mak' muck o'. Sic a crater's 
hardly worth damnin'." 

And Thomas threw trowelful after trowelful of rough- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 283 

cast upon the wall, making his hypocrite in all the composure 
of holy thoughts. And Annie forgot her trouble in his 
presence. For Thomas was one of those whom the prophet 
foresaw when he said : " And a man shall be as an hiding- 
place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest ; as riv- 
ers of water in a dry place, as a shadow of a great rock in a 
weary land." I do not mean that Thomas was felt to be 
such by all whom he encountered ; for his ambition was to 
rouse men from the sleep of sin ; to set them face to face 
with the terrors of Mount Sinai ; to " shak' them ower the 
mou' o' the pit," till they were all but choked with the fumes 
of the brimstone. But he was a shelter to Annie — and to 
Tibbie also, although she and he were too much of a sort 
to appear to the best advantage in their intercourse. 

" Hoo's Tibbie the day ? " said Thomas. 

*' She's a wee bit better the day," answered Annie. 

" It's a great privileege, lassie, and ane that ye'll hae to 
answer for, to be sae muckle wi' ane o' the Lord's elec' as 
ye are wi' Tibbie Dyster. She's some thrawn [twisfcd) 
whiles, but she's a good honest woman, wha has the glory o' 
God sair at her hert. And she's tell't me my duty and my 
sins in a mainner worthy o' Debohrah the prophetess ; and I 
aye set mysel' to owercome them as gin they had been the 
airmy o' Sisera, wham Jael, the wife o' Heber, the Kenite, 
killed efter a weel-deserved but some cooardly faushion." 

Annie did not return to the harvest-field that day. She 
did not want to go near Alec again. So, after lingering a 
while with Thomas, she wandered slowly across some fields 
of barley-stubble through which the fresh young clover was 
already spreading its soft green. She then went over the 
Glamour by the bridge with the three arches, down the 
path at the other end, over the single great stone that 
crossed the dyer's dam, and so into Tibbie's cottage. 

Had Annie been Robert Bruce's own, she would have 
had to mind the baby, to do part of the housework, and, 
being a wise child, to attend in the shop during meals, and 
so expedite the feeding-process which followed the grace. 
But Robert Bruce was ignorant of how little Annie knew 
about the investment of her property. He took her freedom 
of action for the result of the knowledge that she paid her 
way, whereas Annie followed her own impulse, and never 
thought about the matter. Indeed, with the reticence of 
Scotch people, none of her friends had given her any infor- 
mation about her little fortune. Had Bruce known this. 



284 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

there would have been no work too constant for her, and no 
Hberty too small. 

Thomas did not doubt that Robert Bruce had stolen the 
note. But he did not see yet what he ought to do about it. 
The thing would be hard to prove, and the man who would 
steal would lie. But he bitterly regretted that such a man 
should have found his way into their communion. 



CHAPTER LIX. 



At length the corn was gathered in, all over the valley 
of the two rivers. The wool of the sheep grows again 
after they are shorn, to keep them warm in the winter : 
when the dry stubble sticks up short and bristly over the 
fields, to keep them warm " He scattered his snows like 
wool." 

The master returned from the sea-coast, bringing Truffey 
with him, radiant with life. Nothing could lengthen that 
shrunken limb, but in the other and the crutch together he 
had more than the function of two. 

And the master was his idol. 

And the master was a happier man. The scene of his 
late failure had begun to fade a little from his brain. The 
expanse of the church and the waiting people was no longer 
a vision certain to arise in the darkness that surrounds 
sleep. He had been loving and helping ; and love and 
help had turned into a great joy, whose tide washed from 
out of his heart the bitterness of his remembered sm. 
When we love truly, all oppression of past sin will be 
swept away. Love is the final atonement, of which and 
for which the sacrifice of the atonement was made. And 
till this atonement is made in every man, sin holds its own, 
and God is not all in all. 

So the earth and all that was therein did the master good. 
And he came back able to look the people in the face — 
humble still, but no longer humiliated. And when the 
children gathered again on a Monday morning, with the 
sad feeling that the holidays were over, the master's prayer 
was different from what it used to be, and the work was 
less irksome than before, and school was not so hateful 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 285 

after all. Even the Shorter Catechism was not the instru- 
ment of torture which it had been wont to be. The cords 
of the rack were not strained so tight as heretofore. 

But the cool, bright mornings, and the frosty evenings, with 
the pale green sky after sundown, spoke to the heart of Alec 
of a coming loss. Not that Kate ever had shown that she 
loved him, so that he even felt a restless trouble in her pres- 
ence which had not been favorable to his recovery. Yet as he 
lay in the gloaming, and watched those crows flying home, 
they seemed to be bearing something away with them on their 
black wings ; and as the light sank and paled on the horizon, 
and the stars began to condense themselves into sparks 
amid the sea of green, like those that fleet phosphorescent 
when the prow of the vessel troubles the summer sea, and 
then the falling stars of September shot across the darken- 
ing sky, he felt that a change was near, that for him winter 
was coming before its time. And the trees saw from their 
high watch-tower the white robe of winter already drifting up 
above the far horizon on the wind that followed his foot- 
steps, and knew what that wind would be when it howled 
tormenting over those naked fields. So their leaves turned 
yellow and gray, and the frosty red of age was fixed upon 
them, and they fell, and lay. 

On one of those bright mornings, which make the head 
feel so clear, the limbs so strong, and the heart so sad, the 
doom fell in the expected form, that of a letter from the 
Professor. He was at home at last, and wanted his niece 
to mix his toddy, and scold his servants for him, from both 
of which enjoyments he said he desired to wean himself in 
time. Alec's heart sank within him. 

" Don't go yet, Kate," he said. But he felt that she must 

go- 

An early day was fixed for her return ; and his summer 
would go with her. 

The day before her departure they were walking together 
along one of those parish-roads leading to the hills. 

'' Oh, Kate ! " exclaimed Alec, all at once, in an outburst 
of despair, " what shall I do when you are gone ? Every 
thing will look so hateful ! " 

" Oh, Alec ! " rejoined Kate, in a tone of expostulation. 

" They will all look the same as if you had not gone 
away ! — so heartless, so selfish ! " 

" But I shall see you in November again." 

"Oh, yes. You will see me. But shall I see you? — this 



286 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

very you ? Oh, Kate ! Kate ! I feel you will be different 
then. You will not look at me as you do now. You are 
kind to me because I have been ill. You pity me for my 
white face. It is very good of you. But itwt't you love 
me, Kate ? I don't deserve it. But I've read so often of 
beautiful women loving men who do not deserve it. Per- 
haps I may be worthy of it some day. And by that time 
you will have loved some one else ! " 

He turned involuntarily, and walked toward home. He 
recovered himself instantly, however, and returning, put his 
hand on Kate's arm, who was frightened and anxious. 
Like a child praying to his mother, he repeated : 

" Won't you love me, Kate ? — Just a little ? — How can I 
go into that room after you are gone — and all your things 
out of it ? I am not good enough ever to sleep there 
again. Wont you love me, Kate ? A little ? " 

** I do love you dearly. You know that. Alec. Why do 
you always press me to say more ? " 

" Because I do not like the way you say it." 

" You want me to speak your way, not my own, and be a 
hypocrite ? " 

" Kate ! Kate ! I understand you too well." 

They walked home in silence. 

Now, although this was sad enough for Alec, yet there 
was room for hope. But she was going away, and he 
would not know what she was doing or thinking. It was 
as if she were going to die. Nor was that all ; — for — to 
misuse the quotation — 

" For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come ! " 

She might dream of some one, love some one — yes, marry 
some one, and so drive him mad. 

When the last night arrived, he followed her up stairs 
and knocked at her room door, to see her once again, and 
make one more appeal. Now an appeal has only to do 
with justice or pity. With love it is of no use. With love 
it is as unavailing as wisdom or gold or beauty. But no 
lover believes this. 

There was no answer to the first, the inarticulate appeal. 
He lost his courage, and dared not knock again ; and while 
Kate was standing with her head on one side, and her 
dress half off, wondering if any one had knocked, he crept 
away to his bed ashamed. There was only a partition of 
lath and plaster between the two, neither of whom could 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 287 

sleep, but neither of whom could have given the other any 
comfort. Not even another thunder-storm could have 
brought them together again that night. 

At length the pitiless dawn, which will come, awoke Alec, 
and he saw the last few aged stars wither away as the great 
young star came up the hill, the despot who, crowned with 
day, drives the men up and abroad, be the weather, inside 
or out, what it may. It was the dreariest dawn Alec had 
ever known. 

Kate appeared at breakfast with indescribable signs of 
preparation about her. The breakfast was dull and cheer- 
less. The autumn sun was brilliant. The inevitable gig 
appeared at the door. Alec was not even to drive it. He 
could only help her into it, kiss her gloved hand on the 
rail, and see her vanish behind the shrubbery. 

He then turned in stern endurance, rushed up into the very 
room he had thought it impossible ever to enter again, 
caught up a handkerchief she had left behind her, pressed 
it to his face, threw himself on her bed, and — well, he fell 
fast asleep. 

He woke not so miserable as he had expected. Of this 
he was so much ashamed that he tried hard to make himself 
more miserable, by going over all the miseries in store for 
him. But his thoughts would not obey him. They would 
take their own way, fly where they pleased, and alight where 
they would. And the meeting in November was the most 
attractive object in sight. — So easily is hope born, when 
the time of her birth is come ! 

But he soon found that Grief is like some maidens ; she 
will not come when she is called ; but if you leave her alone, 
she will come of herself. Before the day was over he 
had sacrificed griefs enough upon the altar of Love. All 
at once the whole vacant region rushed in upon him with a 
ghostly sense of emptiness and desolation. He wandered 
about the dreary house like a phantom about a cenotaph. 
The flowers having nothing to say, because they had ceased 
to mean anything, looked ashamed of themselves. The sun- 
shine was hastening to have done with it, and let the winter 
come as soon as he liked, for there was no more use in 
shining like this. And Alec being in love, could feel all 
this, although he had not much imagination ; for the poetic 
element has its share in the most common pug-faced man in 
creation, and when he is in love, what of that sort there is 
in him, as well as what there is of any sort of good thing, 



265 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGEEN. 

will come to the surface, as the trout do in the balmy sum- 
mer evenings. Therefore let every gentle maiden be warned 
how she takes such a manifestation of what is in the man 
for the man himself. It is the deepest, it is the best in him, 
but it may not be in the least his own yet. It is one thing 
to have a mine of gold in one's ground, know it, and work 
it, and another to have the mine still but regard the story as 
a fable, throw the aureal hints that find their way to the 
surface as playthings to the woman who herself is but a 
plaything in the owner's eyes, and mock her when she takes 
them for precious. In a word, every man in love shows 
better than he is, though, thank God, not better than he is 
meant to become. 

After Kate's departure Alec's health improved much 
more rapidly. Hope, supplied by his own heart, was the 
sunlight in which he revived. He had one advantage over 
some lovers — that he was no metaphysician. He did not 
torture himself with vain attempts to hold his brain as a 
mirror to his heart, that he might read his heart there. The 
heart is deaf and dumb and blind, but it has more in it — 
more life and blessedness, more torture and death — than 
any poor knowledge-machine of a brain can understand, or 
even delude itself into the fancy of understanding. 

From the first Kate's presence had not been favorable to 
his recovery, irrespectively of the excitement and restless- 
ness which it occasioned, for she was an absorbent, rather 
than a diffuser, of life. Her own unsatisfied nature, her 
excitableness, her openness to all influences from the ex- 
ternal world, and her incapacity for supplying her needs in 
any approximate degree from inward resources ; her con- 
sequent changeableness, moodiness, and dependency — 
were all unfavorable influences upon an invalid who loved 
her. 

The first thing he did was to superintend the painting 
and laying up of his boat for the winter. It was placed 
across the rafters of the barn, wrapped in tarpaulin. 

The light grew shorter and shorter. A few rough, rainy 
days stripped the trees of their foliage, and although the 
sun shone out again and made lovely weather, 

Saint Martin's summer, halcyon days, 

it was plain to all the senses that the autumn was drawing 
to a close. 



CHAPTER LX. 

All the prophetic rumors of a bad harvest had proved 
themselves false. Never a better harvest had been gathered 
in the strath, nor had one ever been carried home in supe- 
rior condition. But the passion for prophecy had not abated 
in Glamerton. It was a spiritual epidemic over the whole 
district. 

Now a certain wily peddler had turned the matter over and 
resolved to make something of it. 

One day there appeared in the streets of Glamerton a man 
carrying in his hand a bundle of papers as a sample of what 
he had in the pack upon his shoulders. He bore a burden 
of wrath. They were all hymns and ballads of a minacious 
description, now one and now another of which he kept 
repeating in lugubrious recitative. Amongst them some of 
Watt's, quite unknown to Glamerton worshipers, carried 
the palm of horror. But there were others which equaled 
them in absurdity, although their most ludicrous portions 
affected the populace only as a powerful realization of the 
vague and awful. One of these had the following stanzas : 

" The dragon's tail shall be the whip 

Of scorpions foretold. 
With which to lash them thigh and hip 

That wander from the fold. 
And when their wool is burnt away — 

Their garments gay, I mean — 
Then this same whip they'll feel, I say, 

Upon their naked skin." 

The probability seems to be that, besides collecting from 
all sources known to him, the peddler had hired an able 
artist for the production of original poems of commination. 
His scheme succeeded, for great was the sale of these 
hymns and ballads at a halfpenny a-piece in the streets of 
Glamerton. Even those who bought to laugh, could not 
help feeling an occasional anticipatory sting, of which, being 
sermon-seared, they were never conscious under pulpit de- 
nunciation. 

The peddler having emptied his wallet — not like that of 
Chaucer's Pardoner, 

" Bretful of pardon brought from Rome all hot," 

but crammed with damnation brought all hot from a differ- 



ZpO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

ent place — vanished, and another wonder appeared in the 
streets of Glamerton — a man who cried with a loud voice, 
borrowing the cry of the ill-tempered prophet : " Yet forty- 
days, and Glamerton shall be destroyed." 

This cry he repeated at awful intervals of about a min- 
ute, walking slowly through every street, lane, and close of 
the town. The children followed him in staring silence ; 
the women gazed from their doors in awe as he passed. 
The insanity which gleamed in his eyes and his pale, long- 
drawn countenance, heightened the effect of the terrible 
prediction. His belief took theirs by storm. 

The men smiled to each other, but could not keep it up 
in the presence of their wives and sisters. They said truly 
that he was only a madman. But as prophets have always 
been taken for madmen, so madmen often pass for prophets ; 
and even Stumpin' Steenie, the town constable, had too much 
respect either to his prophetic claims or his lunacy, perhaps 
both, to take him into custody. So through the streets of 
Glamerton he went on his bare feet, with tattered garments, 
proclaiming aloud the coming destruction. He walked in 
the middle of the street, and turned aside for nothing. The 
coachman of the Royal Mail had to pull up his four grays 
on their haunches to keep them off the defiant prophet and 
leave him to pursue the straight line of his mission. The 
ministers warned the people on the following Sunday against 
false prophets, but did not say that man was a false prophet, 
while with their own denunciations they went on all 
the same. The chief effects of it all were excitement and fear. 
There was little sign of repentance. But the spiritual physi- 
cians did not, therefore, doubt their exhibition. They only 
increased the dose. The prophet appeared one day. He 
had vanished the next. 

But within a few days, a still more awful prediction rose, 
cloud-like, on the spiritual sky. A placard was found affixed 
to the doors of every place of worship in the town, setting 
forth in large letters that, according to certain irrefragable 
calculations from " the number of a man" and other such of 
the more definite utterances of Daniel and St. John, the 
day of judgment must without fail fall upon the next Sun- 
day week. Whence this announcement came no one knew. 
But the truth is, every one was willing it should remain 
shrouded in the mystery congenial to such things. On the 
door of the parish church it found an especially suitable 
place, for that, not having been painted for many years, still 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 29I 

retained the mourning into which it had been put on occa- 
sion of the death of the great man of the neighborhood, the 
owner of all Glamerton and miles around it, this mourning 
consisting of a ground of dingy black, over which at small, 
regular distances had been painted a multitude of white 
spots with tails, rather more like commas than tadpoles, in- 
tended to represent the falling tears of lamenting tenants 
and humble servants generally. Curly 's grandfather had 
been the artist of the occasion. In the middle of this door 
stood the awful prophecy, surrounded on every side by the 
fall of the faded tears, and for any thing any body knew, it 
might have been a supernatural exudation from the damp 
old church, full of decay for many a dreary winter. Dread- 
ful places those churches, hollow and echoing all the week ! 
I wonder if the souls of idle parsons are condemned to haunt 
them, and that is what gives them that musty odor and that 
exhausting air. 

Glamerton was variously affected by this condensation 
of the vapor of prophecy into a definite prediction. 

" What think ye o' 't, Thomas Crann ? " said Andrew 
Constable. " The calcleation seems to be a' correck. Yet 
somehoo I canna believe in't." 

" Dinna fash yer held aboot it, Andrew. There's a heep 
o' judgments atween this an' the hinner en'. The Lord'll 
come whan naebody's luikin' for him. And sae we maun 
be aye ready. Ilka year's an anno dominy. But I dinna 
think the man that made that calcleation as ye ca' 't 's jist 
a'thegeether infallible. An' for ae thing, he's forgotten to 
mak' allooance for the laip years." 

" The day's by, than ! " exclaimed Andrew, in a tone con- 
trasting strongly with his previous expressions of unbelief. 

" Or else it's nae comin' sae sune as the prophet thocht. 
I'm no clear at this moment aboot that. But it's a sma' 
maitter that." 

Andrew's face fell, and he looked thoughtful. 

" Hoo mak' ye that oot ? " said he. 

'* Hoots man ! " answered Thomas ; " dinna ye see 'at gin 
the man was cawpable o' makin' sic a mistak's that, i' the 
mids' o' his perfec' confidence in his ain knowledge an' 
jeedgment, he cud hardly hae been intendit by Providence 
for an interpreter o' dark sayings of old ? " 

Andrew burst into a laugh. 

" Wha cud hae thocht, Thomas, 't ye cud hae pickit sic 
gumption oot o' stanes ! " 



292 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

And SO they parted, Andrew laughing, and Thomas with 
a curious smile. 



CHAPTER LXI. 



Toward the middle of the following week the sky grew 
gloomy, and a thick, small, incessant rain brought the dreari- 
est weather in the world. There was no wind, and miles of 
mist were gathered in the air. After a day or two the 
heavens grew lighter, but the rain fell as steadily as before, 
and in heavier drops. Still there was little rise in either the 
Glamour or the Wan Water, and the weather could not be 
said to be any thing but seasonable. 

On the Saturday afternoon, weary of some poor attempts 
at Greek and Latin, weary of the wretched rain, and weary 
with wishing to be with Kate, Alec could stay in the house 
no longer, and went out for a walk. Along the bank of the 
river he wandered, through the rain above and the wet grass 
below, to the high road, stood for a moment on the bridge 
gazing at the muddy Glamour, which came down bank-full, 
— Annie saw him from Tibbie's window as he stood, — and 
then turned and followed its course below the bridge 
through a wild, and now dismal country, to where the waters 
met. It was getting dusk when he reached the place. 
With what a roar the Wan Water came down its rocks, rush- 
ing from its steeper course into the slow incline of the 
Glamour ! A terrible country they came from — those two 
ocean-bound rivers — up among the hill-tops. There on the 
desolate peat-mosses, spongy, black and cold, the rain was 
pouring into the awful holes whence generations had 
dug their fuel, and into the natural chasms of the earth, 
soaking the soil, and sending torrents, like the flaxen hair 
of a Titanic Naiad, rolling into the bosom of the rising river- 
god below. The mist hung there, darkening every thing 
with its whiteness, ever sinking in slow fall upon the slip- 
pery peat and the heather and the gray old stones. By and 
by the pools would be filled, and the hidden caves ; their 
sides would give way : the waters would rush from the one 
into the other, and from all down the hill-sides, and the 
earth-sponge would be drained off. 

" Gin this hauds, we'll hae a spate," said Alec to himself, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 293 

when he saw how the waters met, flooding the tnvers, and 
beginning to invade the trees upon the steep banks below. 
The scene was in harmony with his feeUngs. The delight 
of the sweeping waters entered his soul, and filled him with 
joy and strength. As he took his way back through the 
stunted trees, each swathed in its own mist, and dripping as 
if it were a separate rain-cloud ; and through the bushes 
that wetted him like pools ; and through the streams that 
poured down the steep bank into the Glamour ; he thought 
how different it was when he walked there with Kate, when the 
sun was bright, and the trees were covered with green, and 
the heather was in patches of blossom, and the river went 
clear-hearted and singing over its stony channel below. But 
he would rather have it thus, now that Kate was gone. 

The floods then were slower in rising, and rose to a much 
greater height than now. In the present day, the numerous 
drains provide a rapid and steady escape, so that there is no 
accumulation of waters, and no bursting of the walls of 
natural or accidental reservoirs. And I presume that from 
slow changes produced in the climate by cultivation, there 
may be a less fall of water now than there used to be ; for 
in some parts of that country the rivers have, within the 
memory of middle-aged men, considerably decreased in 
volume. 

That evening, in the school-master's lodgings, Truffey sat 
at the tea-table triumphant. The master had been so 
pleased with an exercise which he had written for him — 
written in verse too — that he had taken the boy home to 
tea with him, dried him well at his fire, and given him as 
much buttered toast as he could eat. Truffey had often 
had a like privilege, but never for an ovation, as now. How 
he loved his master ! 

*' Truffey," said Mr. Malison, after a long pause, during 
which he had been staring into the fire, *' how's your leg ? " 

" Quite weel, thank ye, sir," answered Truffey, uncon- 
sciously putting out the foot of the wrong leg on the fender, 
*' There wasna ony thing the matter wi' 't." 

" I mean the other leg, Truffey — the one that I — that I — • 
hurt." 

" Perfectly weel, sir. It's no worth speirin' efter. I 
wonner that ye tak sic pains wi' me, sir, whan I was sic a 
nickum." 

The master could not reply. But he was more grateful 
for Truffey's generous forgiveness than he would have been 



294 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

for the richest living in Scotland. Such forgiveness is just 
giving us back ourselves — clean and happy. And for what 
gift can we be more grateful ? He vowed over again to do 
all he could for Truffey. Perhaps a sticket minister might 
have a hand in making a minister that would not stick. 

Then the master read Truffey's queer composition aloud, 
and notwithstanding all his conscientious criticism, Truffey 
was delighted with his own work when removed to an 
objective distance by the master's reading. At length Mr. 
Malison said : 

" It's time to go home, Andrew Truffey. Put on my 
cloak — there. And keep out of the puddles as much as you 
can." 

" I'll pit the sma' fit in," said Truffey, holding up the 
end of his crutch, as he stretched it forward to make one 
bound out of the door. For he delighted in showing off 
his agility to his master. 



CHAPTER LXII. 



When Alec looked out of his window the next morning, 
he saw a broad yellow expanse below. The Glamour was 
rolling, a mighty river, through the land. A wild waste of 
foamy water, looking cold and torn and troubled, it swept 
along the fields where late the corn had bowed to the 
autumn winds. But he had often seen it as high. And all 
the corn was safe in the yard. 

Neither he nor his mother regretted much that they 
could not go to church. Mrs. Forbes sat by the fire and 
read Hannah More's Christian Morals, and Alec sat by the 
window reading James Montgomery's World before the Flood, 
and watching the river, and the splashing of the rain in the 
pluvial lake, for the water was nearly a foot deep around 
the house, although it stood upon a knoll of gravel. 

All night Tibbie Dyster had lain awake in her lonely 
cottage, listening to the quiet, heavy ^6' of the water from 
which all the sweet babbling sounds and delicate music- 
tones had departed. The articulation of the river-god was 
choked in the weight and hurry of its course to the expect- 
ant sea. Tibbie was still far from well, had had many 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 295 

relapses, and was more than ever convinced that the Lord 
was going to let her see his face. 

Annie would have staid with her that Saturday night, as 
she not unfrequently did, had she not known that Mrs. 
Bruce would make it a pretext for giving her no change of 
linen for another week. 

The moment Bruce entered the chapel — for no weather 
deprived him of his Sabbath privileges — Annie, who had 
been his companion so far, darted off to see Tibbie. When 
Bruce found that she had not followed him, he hurried to 
the door, but only to see her half way down the street. He 
returned in anger to his pew, which he was ashamed of 
showing thus empty to the eyes of his brethren. But there 
were many pews in like condition that morning. 

The rain having moderated a little in the afternoon, the 
chapel was crowded in the evening. Mrs. Bruce was the 
only one of the Bruce family absent. The faces of the con- 
gregation wore an expectant look, for they knew Mr. Turn- 
bull would improve the occasion ; he always sought collateral 
aid to the influences of the truth, and sometimes attempted 
to suborn Nature herself to give effect to his persuasions. 
The text he had chosen was : " But as the days of Noe 
were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." He 
made no allusion to the paper which the rain was busy 
washing off the door of the chapel ; nor did he wish to 
remind the people that this was the very day foreseen by 
the bill-sticking prophet, as appointed for the advent of 
judgment. But when, in the middle of the sermon, a flash 
of lightning seemed to extinguish the array of candles, and 
was followed by an instant explosion of thunder, and a 
burst of rain, as if a waterspout had broken over their 
heads, coming down on the roof like the trampling of horses 
and the noise of chariot-wheels, the general start and pallor 
of the congregation showed that they had not forgotten the 
prediction. This then was the way in which judgment was 
going to be executed : a second flood was about to sweep 
them from the earth. So, although all stared at the minister 
as if they drank in every word of his representation of 
Noah's flood, with its despairing cries, floating carcasses, and 
lingering deaths on the mountain-tops as the water crept 
slowly up from peak to peak, yet they were much too 
frightened at the little flood in the valley of two rivers, to 
care for the terrors of the great deluge of the world, in 
which, according to Mr. TurnbuU, eighty thousand millions 



296 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

of the sons and daughters of men perished, or to heed the 
practical appUcation which he made of his subject. For 
once the contingent of nature was too powerful for the ends 
of the preacher. 

When the service was over, they rushed out of the chapel. 

Robert Bruce was the first to step from the threshold up 
to the ankles in water. The rain was falling — not in drops, 
but in little streams. 

" The Lord preserve 's ! " he exclaimed. " It's risen a fit 
{foot) upo' Glamerton a'ready. And there's that sugar i' 
the cellar ! Bairns, rin hame yer lanes. I canna bide for ye." 

And he was starting off at the top of his speed. 

*' Hoots ! man," cried Thomas Crann, who came behind 
him, " ye're sae sair ta'en up wi' the warl, 'at ye hae nae 
room for ordinar' common sense. Ye're only stannin' up to 
the mou's o' yer shune i' the hole 'at ye unnertook yersel' to 
fill up wi' the lime 'at was ower efter ye had turned yer dry 
stane dyke intil a byre-wa'." 

Robert stepped out of the hole and held his tongue. At 
that moment, Annie was slipping past him to run back to 
Tibbie. He made a pounce upon her and grabbed her by 
the shoulder. 

" Nae mair o' this, Annie ! " he said. " Come hame for 
cowmon dacency, and dinna gangstravaguin' in a nicht like 
this, naebody kens whaur." 

" A' body kens whaur," returned Annie. " I'm only gaun 
to sleep wi' Tibbie Dyster, puir blin' body ! " 

" Lat the blin' sleep wi' the blin', an' come ye hame wi* 
me," said Robert oracularly, abusing several texts of Scrip- 
ture in a breath, and pulling Annie away with him. " Ye'U 
be drooned afore the mornin' in some hole or ither, ye 
fashous rintheroot ! And syne wha'll hae the wyte o' 't?" 

Heartily vexed and disappointed, Annie made no resist- 
ance, for she felt it would be uncomely. And how the rain 
did pour as they went home ! They were all wet to the skin 
in a moment except Mr. Bruce, who had a big umbrella, and 
reasoned with himself that his Sabbath clothes were more 
expensive than those of the children. 

The best way certainly was to send the wet ones to bed 
as soon as they got home. But how could Annie go to bed 
when Tibbie was lying awake listening for her footsteps, and 
hearing only the sounds of the rising water ? She made up 
her mind what to do. Instead of going into her room, she 
kept listening on the landing for the cessation of footsteps. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 297 

The rain poured down on the roof with such a noise, and 
rushed so fiercely along the spouts, that she found it diffi- 
cult to be sure. There was no use in changing her clothes 
only to get them wet again, and it was well for her that the 
evening was warm. But at length she was satisfied that her 
gaolers were at supper, whereupon she stole out of the house 
as quietly as a kitten, and was out of sight of it as quickly. 
Not a creature was to be seen. The gutters were all 
choked and the streets had become river-beds, already torn 
with the rush of the ephemeral torrents. But through it all 
she dashed fearlessly, bounding on to Tibbie's cottage. 

" Eh, preserve's ! sic a nicht, Peter Whaup ! " said 
Peter's wife to Peter as he sat by the fire with his cutty in 
his teeth. " It'll be an awfu' spate." 

" Ay will't," rejoined Peter. " There's mair water nor 
whusky already. Jist rax doon the bottle, gudewife. It 
tak's a hantle to quawlifee sic weet's this. Tak' a drappy 
yersel', 'oman, to hand it oot." 

"Yehaehad plenty, Peter, /dinnawant nane. Ye're 
a true smith, man : ye haeaye a spark i' yer throat." 

" Toots ! There never was sic a storm o' water sin' the 
ark o' the covenant — " 

"Ye mean Noah's ark, Peter, man." 

" Weel, weel ! ony thing ye like. It's a' the same, ye ken. 
I was only jist remarkin' that we haena sic a fa' o' rain ilka 
day, an' we sud jist hand the day in min', pay 't respec' like, 
keep it wi' a tumbler, ye ken — cummummerate it, as they 
ca' 't. Rax doon the bottle, lass, and I'll jist gie a luik oot 
an' see whether the water's Hkely to come in ower the door- 
sill ; for gin it ance crosses the thrashol', I doot there wonno 
be whusky eneuch i' the hoose, and bein' theSawbath nicht, 
we canna weel win at ony mair." 

Thus entreated. Mistress Whaup got the bottle down. 
She knew her husband must have whisky, and like a wise 
woman, got him to take as large a proportion of the immit- 
igable quantity as possible at home. Peter went to the door 
to reconnoiter. 

" Guid guide 's ! " he cried ; "tlicre' a lassie run by like 
a maukin {/lare), wi' a splash at ilka fit like a wauk-mill. An' 
I do believe it was Annie Anderson. Will she be rinnin' for 
the howdie {inidwife) to Mistress Bruce ? The cratur'U be 
droont. I'll jist rin efter her." 

" An' be droont yersel', Peter Whaup ! She's a wise lass, 
an' can tak' care o' hersel'. Lat ye her rin." 



298 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

But Peter hesitated. 

"The water's bilin'," cried Mrs. Whaup. 

And Peter hesitated no longer. 

Nor indeed could he have overtaken Annie if he had 
tried. Before Peter's tumbler was mixed she was standing 
on the stone across the dyer's dam, looking down into the 
water which had risen far up the perpendicular sides of its 
rocky conduit. Across the stone the water from the street 
above was pouring into the Glamour. 

" Tibbie," she said, as she entered the cottage, " I doobt 
there's gaun to be a terrible spate." 

" Lot it come," cried Tibbie. " The bit hoosie's fund't 
upon a rock, and the rains may fa', and the wins may blaw, 
and the floods may ca at the hoosie, but it winna fa', it canna 
fa', for it's fund't upo' a rock." 

Perhaps Tibbie's mind was wandering a little, for when 
Annie entered, she found her face flushed, and her hands 
moving restlessly. But what with this assurance of her con- 
fidence, and the pleasure of being with her again, Annie 
thought no more about the waters of the Glamour. 

" What keepit ye sae lang, lassie ? " said Tibbie wearily 
after a moment's silence, during which Annie had been redis- 
posing the peats to get some light from the fire. 

She told her the whole story. 

" And hae ye had nae supper ? " 

" Na. But I dinna want ony." 

" Pit aff yer weet claes than, and come to yer bed." 

Annie crept into the bed beside her — not dry even then, 
for she was forced to retain her last garment. Tibbie was 
restless, and kept moaning, so that neither of them could 
sleep. And the water kept sweeping on faster, and rising 
higher up the rocky mound on which the cottage stood. 
The old woman and the young girl lay within and listened 
fearless. 



CHAPTER LXIII. 



Alec too lay awake and listened to the untiring rain. 
Weary of the house, he had made use of the missionar kirk 
to get out of it, and had been one of Mr. Turnbull's congre- 
gation that night. Partly because his mind was unoccupied 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 299 

by any fear from without, for he only laughed at the proph- 
ecy, something in that sermon touched him deeper than any 
one else in the place perhaps, awoke some old feelings of 
responsibility that had been slumbering for a longtime, and 
made him reflect upon an unquestioned article of his creed — 
the eternal loss and misery and torture of the soul that did 
not repent and believe. At the same time, what repentance 
and belief really meant — what he had to do first — he did 
not know. All he seemed to know was that he was at that 
moment in imminent danger of eternal damnation. And he 
lay thinking about this while the rain kept pouring upon the 
roof out of the thick night overhead, and the Glamour kept 
sweeping by through the darkness to the sea. He grew 
troubled, and when at last he fell asleep, he dreamed 
frightfully. 

When he woke, it was a dull morning, full of mist and 
rain. His dreams had fled even from his memory, but had 
left a sense of grievous discomfort. He rose and looked 
out of the window. The Glamour spread out and rushed 
on like the torrent of a sea forsaking its old bed. Down its 
course swept many dark objects, which he was too far off to 
distinguish. He dressed himself, and went down to its 
edge — not its bank : that lay far within and far beneath its 
torrent. The water, outspread where it ought not to be, 
seemed to separate him from the opposite country by an 
impassable gulf of space, a visible infinitude — a vague mar- 
vel of waters. Past him swept trees torn up by the roots. 
Down below, where he could not see, stones were rolling 
along the channel. On the surface, sheaves and trees went 
floating by. Then a cart with a drowned horse between the 
shafts, heaved past in the central roll of the water. Next 
came something he could not understand at first. It was a 
great water-wheel. This made him think of the mill, and he 
hurried off to see what the miller was doing. 

Truffey went stumping through the rain and the streams 
to the morning school. Gladly would he have waited on 
the bridge, which he had to cross on his way, to look at the 
water instead. But the master would be there, and Truffey 
would not be absent. When Mr. Malison came, Truffey was 
standing in the rain waiting for him. Not another boy was 
there. He sent him home. And Truffey went back to the 
bridge over the Glamour, and there stood watching the 
awful river. 

Mr. Malison sped away westward towards the Wan Water. 



300 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

On his way he found many groups of the inhabitants going 
in the same direction. The bed of the Wan Water was here 
considerably higher than that of the Glamour, although by 
a rapid descent it reached the same level a couple of miles 
below the town. But its waters had never, to the knowl- 
edge of any of the inhabitants, risen so high as to surmount 
the ridge on the other slope of which the town was built. 
Consequently they had never invaded the streets. But now 
people said the Wan Water would be down upon them in 
the course of an hour or two, when Glamerton would be in 
the heart of a torrent, for the two rivers would be one. So 
instead of going to school, all the boys had gone to look, 
and the master followed them. Nor was the fear without 
foundation ; for the stream was still rising, and a foot more 
would overtop the ground between it and the Glamour. 

But while the excited crowd of his townsmen stood in the 
middle of a stubble-field, watching the progressof the enemy 
at their feet, Robert Bruce was busy in his cellar preparing 
for its reception. He could not move his cask of sugar 
without help, and there was none of that to be had. There- 
fore he was now, in his shirt-sleeves, carrying the sugar up 
the cellar-stairs in the coal-scuttle, while Mrs. Bruce, in a 
condition very unfit for such efforts, went toiling behind him 
with the meal-bossie filled far beyond the brim. As soon as 
he had finished his task, he hurried off to join the watchers 
of the water. 

James Johnstone's workshop was not far from the 
Glamour. When he went into it that morning, he found the 
treadles under water, and thought he had better give him- 
self the play. 

" I'll jist tak' a daun'er [stroll) doon to the brig to see the 
spate gang by," he said to himself, and, putting on his 
grandfather's hat, went out into the rain. 

As he came near the bridge, he saw cripple Truffey lean- 
ing over the parapet with horror-stricken looks. The next 
moment he bounded to his one foot and his crutch, and 
spangcd over the bridge as if he had been gifted with six 
legs. 

When James reached the parapet, he could see nothing to 
account for the terror and eagerness in Truffey's pale face, 
nor for his precipitate flight. But being short-sighted and 
inquisitive, he set off after Truffey as fast as the dignity 
proper to an elderly weaver and a deacon of the missionars 
would permit. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 3OI 

As Alec came near the mill he saw two men standing 
together on the verge of the brown torrent which separated 
them from it. They were the miller — the same whose mill- 
stone Curly had broken by shutting down the sluice — and 
Thomas Crann, the latest architect employed about the 
building. Thomas had been up all night, wandering hither 
and thither along the shore of the Wan Water, sorely 
troubled about Glamerton and its careless people. Towards 
morning he had found himself in the town again, and, cross- 
ing the Glamour, had wandered up the side of the water, 
and so come upon the sleepless miller contemplating his 
mill in the embrace of the torrent. 

*' Ye maun alloo it's hard^ Thamas," said the miller. 

" Hard! " retorted Thomas with indignation. " Hoo daur 
ye say sic a thing ! Here hae ye been stickin' yer bit 
water-wheel i' the mids' o' ane o' the Lord's burns, and the 
Lord has ca'd it roon and roon for you and yer forbears 
aboon a hunner yer, and ye've grun' yer breid oot o' 't, and 
the breid o' yer bairns, and noo whan it's i' the Lord's gait, 
and he maun hae mair room to sen' doon the waters f rae his 
hills, ye grummel an' compleen at the spate that's been fore- 
ordeen't frae the verra black mirk o' eternity. What wad 
ye think o' a bairn gaein' compleenin' o' you 'cause your 
backwater had ta'en awa' his wheel ie o' rashes, whaur it was 
whurlin' bonnie afore ye liftit the sluice ? " 

Thomas's zeal had exposed him to the discomfiture of 
those who, if they do not actually tell lies for God, yet use 
very bad arguments for him. The miller rejoined : 

" You or me, Thomas, wad see bairnie an' wheelie alike 
safe, afore we liftit the sluice. The Lord mic/if hae man- 
aged ohn ta'en awa' my mull." 

" Yer mull's nae doon the water yet, Simon. It's in some 
extremity, I confess ; but whether it's to be life or deith, 
none kens but ane. Gang hame, man, and gang doon upo' 
yer knees, and pray." 

" Pray to God aboot an auld meal-mull ? " said Simon 
with indignation. " 'Deed, I wanna be sae ill-bred." 

And so saying, he turned and went home, leaving Thomas 
muttering — 

" Gin a body wad pray aboot ony thing, they micht, 
maybe, tak' a likin' till 't. A prayer may do a body guid 
whan it's no jist o' the kin' to be a'thegither acceptable to 
the min' o' the Almichty. But I doobt hisear'sgleg for ony 
prayer that gangs up his gait." 



302 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

The last two sentences were spoken aloud as he shook 
hands with Alec, of whose presence he had been aware 
from the first, although he had taken no notice of his 
arrival. 

Before another word was uttered, their attention was 
attracted by a large mass floating down the river. 

" What's that, Thomas ? " said Alec. " I houp it winna 
tak' awa' the brig." 

He meant the wooden bridge a few hundred yards below 
them, which, inaccessible from either side, was now very 
little above the level of the water. 

" It's jist the riggin' o' some cottar'sbithoosie," answered 
Thomas. *' What's come o' them that was aneath it, the 
Lord only kens. The water's jist liftit the roof bod'ily. 
There it gangs — thro' aneath the brig. — The brig's doon. 
It's no doon. — It's stan'in' yet. — But the puir fowk. Alec ! 
— Eh ! gin they warna preparet ! Think o' that. Alec." 

" I houp they wan oot," answered Alec. 

" Houps are feckless things, Alec," returned Thomas, cen- 
soriously. 

But the talk was turned into another channel by the 
appearance — a few ridges off — for they were standing in a 
field — of Truffey, who, with frantic efforts to get on, made 
but little speed, so deep did his crutch sink in the soaked 
earth. He had to pull it out at every step, and seemed mad 
in his foiled anxiety to reach them. He tried to shout, but 
nothing was heard beyond a crow like that of a hoarse 
chicken. Alec started off to meet him, but just as he reached 
him his crutch broke in the earth, and he fell and lay unable 
to speak a word. With slow and ponderous arrival, Thomas 
Crann came up. 

" Annie Anderson ! " panted out Truffey at length. 

" What aboot /icr ? " said both in alarm. 

" Tibbie Dyster ! " sobbed Truffey in reply. 

" Here's Jeames Johnstone ! " said Thomas ; " he'll tell's 
a' aboot it." 

He surmised the facts, but waited in painful expectation 
of assurance from the deacon, who came slipping and slid- 
ing along the wet ridges. 

" What's this ? " he cried fiercely, as James came within 
hearing. 

" What is't ? " returned the weaver eagerly. 

If Thomas had been a swearing man, what a terrible oath 
he would have sworn in the wrath which this response of 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 303 

the weaver roused in his apprehensive soul ! But Truffey 
was again trying to speak, and with a 

" Be ashamed o" yersel', Jeames Johnstone," the mason 
bent his ear to Hsten. 

" They'll be droont. They'll be taen awa'. They canna 
win oot." 

Thomas and Alec turned and stared at each other. 

" The boat ! " gasped Thomas. 

Alec made no reply. That was a terrible water to look at. 
And the boat was small. 

" Can ye guide it, Alec ? " said Thomas, his voice trem- 
bling, and the muscles of his face working. 

The terrors of the night had returned upon Alec. Would 
the boat live ? Was there more than a chance ? And if she 
went down, was he not damned forever ? He made no 
reply. He was afraid. 

" Alec ! " shouted Thomas, in a voice that might have 
been heard across the roar of the Glamour, " Will ye lat the 
women droon ? " 

" Thomas," answered Alec, meekly, trembling from head 
to foot, " gin I gang to the boddom, I gang to hell." 

" Better be damned, doin' the will o' God, than saved 
doin' noathing ! " said Thomas. 

The blood shot into Alec's face. He turned and ran. 

" Thomas," said James Johnstone, with shy interposition, 
laying his forefinger upon the stonemason's broad chest, 
" hae ye considered what ye're drivin' the young man till ? " 

" Ay, weel eneuch, Jeames Johnstone. Ye're ane o' thae 
mealy-mou'd frien's that like a man sae wel they wad raither 
hae him gang wi' his back to the pleuch, nor ca't i' the face 
o' a cauld win'. I wad raither see my frien' hangt nor see 
him deserve hangin'. Haud awa' wi' ye. Gin he disna 
gang, I'll gang mysel', an' I never was in a boat i' my life." 

"Come awa', Thomas," cried Alec, already across three or 
four ridges ; *'I canna carry her my lane." 

Thomas followed as fast as he could, but before he 
reached the barn, he met Alec and one of the farm-servants, 
with the boat on their shoulders. 

It was a short way to the water. They had her afloat in 
a few minutes, below the footbridge. At the edge the water 
was as still as a pond. 

Alec seized the oars, and the men shoved him off. 

" Pray, Alec," shouted Thomas. 

" I haena time. Tray yersel'," shouted Alec in reply, and 



304 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

gave a stroke that shot him far towards the current. Before 
he reached it, he shifted his seat, and sat facing the bows. 
There was Httle need for pulling, nor was there much fear 
of being overtaken by any floating mass, while there was 
great necessity for looking out ahead. The moment Thomas 
saw the boat laid hold of by the current, he turned his back 
to the Glamour, fell upon his knees in the grass, and cried 
in an agony : 

" Lord, let not the curse o' the widow and the childless be 
upo' me, Thomas Crann." 

Thereafter he was silent. 

Johnstone and the farm-lad ran down the river-side. 
Truffey had started for the bridge again, having tied up his 
crutch with a string. Thomas remained kneeling, with his 
arms stretched out as stiff as the poles of a scaffold, and the 
joints of his clasped fingers buried in the roots of the grass. 
The stone piers of the wooden bridge fell into the water 
with a rush, but he never heard it. The bridge floated past 
him bodily, but his back was toward it. Like a wretch in 
sanctuary, he dared not leave " the footstool of grace," or 
expose himself to the inroads of the visible world around 
him, by opening his eyes. 

Alec did not find it so hard as he had expected to keep 
his boat from capsizing. But the rapidity with which the 
banks swept past him was frightful. The cottage lay on 
the other side of the Glamour, lower down, and all that he 
had to do for a while was to keep the bows of his boat 
down the stream. When he approached the cottage, he 
drew a little out of the center of the current, which, con- 
fined within rising ground, was here fiercer than any where 
above. But out of the current he could not go ; for the 
cottage lay between the channel of the river and the mill- 
race. Except for its relation, however, to the bridge behind 
it, which he saw crowded with anxious spectators, he would 
not have known where it ought to be — so much was the 
aspect of every thing altered. He could see that the water 
was more than half way up the door, right at which he had 
resolved to send his boat. He was doubtful whether the 
doorway was wide enough to let it through, but he saw no 
other way of doing. Pie hoped his momentum would be 
sufficient to force the door open, or, better still, to carry 
away the posts, and give him more room. If he failed no 
doubt the boat would be in danger, but he would not make 
any further resolutions, till action, becoming absolute. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 305 

should reveal the nature of its own necessities. As he 
drew near his mark, therefore, he resumed the seat of a 
rower, kept taking good aim at the door, gaTe a few vigor- 
ous pulls, and unshipping his oars, bent his head forward 
from the shock. Bang went the Bon?ue Annie ; away went 
door and posts ; and the lintel came down on Alec's 
shoulders. 

But I will now tell how the night had passed with Tibbie 
and Annie. 



CHAPTER LXIV. 



Tibbie's moaning grew gentler and less frequent, and 
both fell into a troubled slumber. From this Annie awoke 
at the sound of Tibbie's voice. She was talking in her 
dream. 

" Dinna wauk him," she said ; " dinna wauk him ; he's 
fell (Ger. viel) tired and sleepy. Lat the win' blaw, lads. 
Do ye think He canna see when his een are steekit ? Gin the 
watter meddle wi' you, He'll sune lat it ken it's i' the wrang. 
Ye'U see't cowerin' at 's feet like a colley-dog. I'll jist dight 
the weet aff o' my Lord's face. — Weel, wauk Him gin ye will, 
/wad raither gang to the boddom mysel'." 

A pause followed. It was clear that she was in a dream- 
boat, with Jesus in the hinder part asleep upon a pillow. 
The sounds of the water outside had stolen through her 
ears and made a picture in her brain. Suddenly she cried 
out : 

" I tell t ye sae ! I tell't ye sae ! Luik at it ! The jaws 
{waves) gang doon as gin they war sae mony wholpies ! " 

She woke with the cry — weeping. 

" I thocht / had the sight o' my een," she said sobbing, 
"and the Lord was blin' wi' sleep." 

" Do you hear the watter ? " said Annie. 

" Wha cares for that watter ! " she answered in a tone of 
contempt. " Do ye think he canna manage hit!" 

But there was dijabble in the room beside them, and 
Annie heard it. The water was yelping at the foot of the 
bed. 

" The watter's i' the hoose ! " cried she in terror, and pro- 
ceeded to rise. 



3o6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Lie still, bairn," said Tibbie, authoritatively. " Gin the 
watter be i' the hoose, there's no ootgang. It'll be doon 
afore the mornin'. Lie still." 

Annie lay down again, and Tibbie resumed : 

" Gin we be i' the watter, the watter's i' the how o' His 
han'. Gin we gang to the boddom, He has only to open's 
fingers, an' there we are, lyin' i' the loof o' 's han', dry and 
warm. Lie still." 

And Annie lay so still, that in .a few minutes more she 
was asleep again. Tibbie slept too. 

But Annie woke from a terrible dream — that a dead man 
was pursuing her, and had laid a cold hand upon her. The 
dream was gone, but the cold hand remained. 

" Tibbie I " she cried, " the watter's i' the bed." 

" What say ye, lassie ? " returned Tibbie, waking up. 

" The watter's i' the bed." 

" Weel, lie still. We canna sweyp it oot." 

The water was in the bed. And it was pitch dark. 
Annie, who lay at the front, stretched her arm over the 
side. It sunk to the elbow. In a moment more the bed 
beneath her was like a full sponge. She lay in silent terror, 
longing for the dawn. 

" I'm terrible cauld," said Tibbie. 

Annie tried to answer her, but the words would not leave 
her throat. The water rose. They were lying half-covered 
with it. Tibbie broke out singing. Annie had never heard 
her sing, and it was not very musical. 

" Saviour through the desert lead us. 
Without thee we can not go." 

" Are ye waukin', lassie ? " 

" Ay," answered Annie. 

" I'm terrible cauld, an' the watter's up to my throat. I 
canna muv, I'm sae cauld. I didna think watter had been 
sae cauld." 

" I'll help ye to sit up a bit. Ye'll hae dreadfu' rheuma- 
tize efter this, Tibbie," said Annie, as she got up on her 
knees, and proceeded to lift Tibbie's head and shoulders, 
and draw her up in the bed. 

But the task was beyond her strength. She could not 
move the helpless weight, and, in her despair, she let Tibbie's 
head fall back with a dull plash upon the bolster. 

Seeing that all she could do was to sit and support her, 
she got out of bed and waded across the floor to the fire- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 307 

side to find her clothes. But they were gone. Chair and 
all had been floated away, and although she groped until 
she found the floating chair, she could not find the clothes. 
She returned to the bed, and getting behind Tibbie, lifted 
her head on her knees, and so sat. 

An awful dreary time followed. The water crept up and 
up. Tibbie moaned a little, and then lay silent for a long 
time, drawing slow and feeble breaths. Annie was almost 
dead with cold. 

Suddenly in the midst of the darkness Tibbie cried out, 

" I see licht ! I see licht ! " 

A strange sound in her throat followed, after which she 
was quite still. Annie's mind began to wander. Some- 
thing struck her gently on the arm, and kept bobbing 
against her. She put out her hand to feel what it was. It 
was round and soft. She said to herself : 

" It's only somebody's heid that the water's torn aff," and 
put her hand under Tibbie again. 

In the morning she found it was a drowned hen. 

At length she saw motion rather than light. The first of 
the awful dawn was on the yellow flood that filled the floor. 
There it lay throbbing and swirling. The light grew. She 
strained her eyes to see Tibbie's face. At last she saw that 
the water was over her mouth, and that her face was like 
the face of her father in his coffin. Child as she was, she 
knew that Tibbie was dead. She tried notwithstanding to 
lift her head out of the water, but she could not. So she 
crept from under her, with painful effort, and stood up in 
the bed. The water almost reached her knees. The table 
was floating near the bed. She got hold of it, and scram- 
bling on to it, sat with her legs in the water. For another 
long space, half dead and half asleep, she went floating 
about, dreaming that she was having a row in the Bonnie 
Annie with Alec and Curly. In the motions of the water, 
she had passed close to the window looking down the river, 
and Truffey had seen her. 

Wide awake she started from her stupor at the terrible 
bang with which the door burst open. She thought the 
cottage was falling, and that her hour was come to follow 
Tibbie down the dark water. 

But in shot the sharp prow of the Bonnie Annie, and in 
glided after it the stooping form of Alec Forbes, She gave 
one wailing cry, and forgot every thing. 

That cry however had not ceased before she was in Alec's 



3o8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

arms. In another moment, wrapped in his coat and waist- 
coat, she was lying in the bottom of the boat. 

Alec was now as cool as any hero should be, for he was 
doing his duty, and had told the devil to wait a bit with his 
damnation. He looked all about for Tibbie, and at length 
spied her drowned in her bed. 

" So much the more chance for Annie and me ! " he said. 
" But I wish I had been in time." 

What was to be done next ? Down the river he must go, 
and they would be upon the bridge in two moments after 
leaving the cottage. — He must shoot the middle arch, for 
that was the highest. But if he escaped being dashed 
against the bridge before he reached the arch, and even 
had time to get in a straight line for it, the risk was a 
terrible one, with the water within a few feet of the keystone. 

But when he shot the Boniiie Annie again through the 
door of the cottage, neither arch nor bridge was to be seen, 
and the boat went down the open river like an arrow. 



CHAPTER LXV. 



Alec, looking down the river on his way to the cottage, 
had not seen the wooden bridge floating after him. As he 
turned to row into the cottage, it went past him. 

The stone bridge was full of spectators, eagerly watch- 
ing the boat, for Truffey had spread the rumor of the 
attempt ; while the report of the situation of Tibbie and 
Annie having reached even the Wan Water, those who had 
been watching it were now hurrying across to the bridge of 
the Glamour. 

The moment Alec disappeared in the cottage, some of 
the spectators caught sight of the wooden bridge coming 
down full tilt upon them. Already fears for the safety of 
the stone bridge had been openly expressed, for the weight 
of water rushing against it was tremendous ; and now that 
they saw this ram coming down the stream, a panic, with 
cries and shouts of terror, arose, and a general rush left the 
bridge empty just at the moment when the floating mass 
struck one of the principal piers. Had the spectators re- 
mained upon it, the bridge might have stood. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 309 

But one of the crowd was too much absorbed in watching 
the cottage to heed the sudden commotion around him. 
This was Truffey, who, leaning wearily on the parapet with 
his broken crutch looking over it also at his side, sent his 
soul through his eyes to the cottage window. Even when 
the bridge struck the pier, and he must have felt the mass 
on which he stood tremble, he still kept staring at the 
cottage. Not till he felt the bridge begin to sway, I pre- 
sume, had he a notion of his danger. Then he sprang 
up, and made for the street. The half of the bridge 
crumbled away behind him, and vanished in the seething 
yellow abyss. 

At this moment the first of the crowd from the Wan 
Water reached the bridge-foot. Amongst them came the 
school-master. Truffey was making desperate efforts to 
reach the bank. His mended crutch had given way, and he 
was hopping wildly along. Murdoch Malison saw him, and 
rushed upon the falling bridge. He reached the cripple, 
caught him up in his strong arms, turned and was half way 
to the street, when with a swing and a sweep and a great 
plash, the remaining half of the bridge reeled into the 
current and vanished. Murdoch Malison and Andrew 
Truffey left the world each in the other's arms. 

Their bodies were never found. 

A moment after the fall of the bridge, Robert Bruce gaz- 
ing with the rest at the triumphant torrent, saw the Bonnie 
Annie go darting past. Alec was in his shirt sleeves, facing 
down the river, with his oars level and ready to dip. But 
Bruce did not see Annie in the bottom of the boat. 

" I wonner hoo auld Marget is," he said to his wife the 
moment he reached home. 

But his wife could not tell him. Then he turned to his 
two younger children. 

" Bairns," he said, " Annie Anderson's droont. Ay, she's 
droont," he continued, as they stared at him with frightened 
faces. " The Almichty's ta'en vengeance upon her for her 
disobedience, and for brackin' the Sawbath. See what ye'll 
come to, bairns, gin ye tak' up wi' ill loons, and dinna min' 
what's said to ye. She's come to an ill hinner-en ' ! " 

Mrs. Bruce cried a little. Robert would have set out at 
once to see Margaret Anderson, but there was no possibility 
of crossing the Wan Water. 

Fortunately for Thomas Crann, James Johnstone, who 
had reached the bridge just before the alarm arose, sped to 



3IO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the nearest side, which was that away from Glamerton. So, 
having seen the boat go past, with Alec still safe in it, he 
was able to set off with the good news for Thomas. After 
searching for him at the miller's and at Howglen, he found 
him where he had left him, still on his knees, with his hands 
in the grass. 

" Alec's a' safe, man," he cried. 

Thomas fell on his face, and he thought he was dead. 
But he was only giving lowlier thanks. 

James took hold of him after a moment's pause. Thomas 
rose from the earth, put his great horny hand, as a child 
might, into that of the little weaver, and allowed him to 
lead him whither he would. He was utterly exhausted, and 
it was hours before he spoke. 

There was no getting to Glamerton. So James took him 
to the miller's for shelter and help, but said nothing about 
how he had found him. The miller made Thomas take a 
glass of whisky and get into his bed. 

" I saw ye, Thamas, upo' yer knees," said he ; " but I 
dauredna come near ye. Put in a word for me neist time, 
man." 

Thomas made no reply. 

Down the Glamour and down the Wan-Water, for the 
united streams went by the latter name, the terrible current 
bore them. Nowhere could Alec find a fit place to land, 
till they came to a village, fortunately on the same side as 
Howglen, into the streets of which the river flowed. He 
bent to his oars, got out of the current, and rowed up to the 
door of a public-house, whose fat, kind-hearted landlady had 
certainly expected no guests that day. In a few minutes 
Annie was in a hot bath, and before an hour had passed, 
was asleep, breathing tranquilly. Alec got his boat into 
the coach-house, and hiring a horse from the landlord, rode 
home to his mother. She had heard only a confused story, 
and was getting terribly anxious about him, when he made 
his appearance. As soon as she learned that he had rescued 
Annie, and where he had left her, she had Dobbin put to 
the gig, and drove off to see after her neglected favorite. 

From the moment the bridge fell, the flood began to sub- 
side. Tibbie's cottage did not fall, and those who entered, 
the next day, found her body lying in the wet bed, its face 
still shining with the reflex of the light which broke upon 
her spirit as the windows were opened for it to pass. 

" See sees noo," said Thomas Crann to James Johnstone, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 3II 

as they walked together at her funeral. " The Lord sent 
that spate to wash the scales frae her een." 

Mrs. Forbes brought Annie home to Howglen, as soon as 
she was fit to be moved. 

Alec went to town again, starting a week before the com- 
mencement of the session. 



CHAPTER LXVI. 



It was a bright frosty evening in the end of October, 
that Alec entered once more the streets of the great city. 
The stars were brilliant over-head, the gems in Orion's 
baldric shining oriently, and the Plow glittering with frost 
in the cold blue fields of the northern sky. Below, the 
streets shone with their own dim stars ; and men and women 
wove the web of their life amongst them as they had done 
for old centuries, forgetting those who had gone before, and 
careless of those who were to come after. 

The moment he had succeeded in satisfying his landlady's 
inquisition, he rushed up to Mr. Cupples's room. Mr. Cup- 
pies was out. What was Alec to do ? He could not call on 
Mr. Fraser that night ; and all space between him and Kate 
growing more immeasurable the nearer he came to her, he 
could not rest for the feeling of distance. So he wandered 
out, and along the sea-shore till under the wall of the pier. 
The tide was low, and the wall high over his head. He fol- 
lowed it to the edge of the water, and gazed out over the 
dim, lead-colored sea. While he stood there, he thought 
he heard voices in the air, and looking up, saw far over him, 
on the top of the wall, two heads standing out against the 
clear sky, one in a bonnet, the other in a Glengarry. Why 
should he feel a pang in his heart ? Surely there were many 
girls who took starlight walks on that refuge in the sea. 
And a Glengarry was no uncommon wear for the youths of 
the city. He laughed at his own weak fancies, turned his 
back on the pier, and walked along the shore toward the 
mouth of the other river which flowed into the same bay. 
As he wont, he glanced back toward the top of the wall, 
and saw the outline of the man. He was in full Highland 
dress. The woman he could not see, for she was on the 



312 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

further side of her companion. By the time he was halfway 
to the college, he had almost forgotten them. 

It was a desolate shore along which he walked. Two 
miles of sand lay by the lip of the sea on his right. On his 
left rose irregular and changeful mounds of dry sand, upon 
which grew coarse grass and a few unpleasant-looking plants. 
From the level of the tops of these mounds stretched away 
a broad expanse of flat uncultivated ground, covered with 
thin grass. This space has been devoted, from time im- 
memorial, to the sports of the city, but at this season, and 
especially at this hour, it was void as the Sahara. After 
sauntering for half an hour, now listening to the winds that 
blew over the sand-hills, and now watching the spiky sparkle 
of the wintry stars in the sea, he reached a point whence he 
could descry the windows of Mr. Fraser's part of the col- 
lege. There was no light in Kate's window. She must be 
in the dining-room with her uncle — or — or — on the pier — 
with whom ? He flung himself on the sand. All the old 
despair of the night of thunder, of the moonlight ramble, of 
the last walk together, revived. He dug with his fingers 
into the sand ; and just so the horrible pain was digging, like 
a live creature with claws, into his heart. But Kate was 
indeed sitting quietly with her uncle, while he lay there on 
the seashore. 

Time passes quickly in any torment — merciful provision. 
Suddenly something cold seemed to grasp him by the feet. 
He started and rose. Like a wild beast in the night, the tide 
had crept upon him. A horror seized him as if the ocean 
were indeed a slimy monster that sought to devour him 
where he lay alone and wretched. He sprang up the sand 
before him, and, sliding back at every step, gained the 
top with difficulty, and ran across the links toward the 
city. The exercise pumped the blood more rapidly through 
his brain, and before he had reached home hope had begun 
to dawn. He ascended the garret-stairs, and again knocked 
at Mr. Cupples's door. 

" Come in," reached his ear in a strange, dull tone. Mr. 
Cupples had shouted into his empty tumbler while just going 
to swallow the last few drops without the usual intervention 
of the wine-glass. Alec hesitated, but the voice came 
again with its usual ring, tinged with irritation, and he 
entered. 

" Hillo, bantam !" exclaimed Mr. Cupples, holding out a 
grimy hand, that many a lady might have been pleased to 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 313 

possess and keep clean and white. " Hoo's the soo ? And 
hoo's a' the cocks and hens ? " 

" Brawly," returned Alec. "Hoo's the tappit hen?" — a 
large bottle, holding six quarts, in which Mr. Cupples kept 
his whisky. 

Mr. Cupples opened his eyes wide and stared at Alec, 
who saw that he had made a blunder. 

" I'll hae nae jaw frae you, younker," said he, slowly. 
" Gin ye be sae ill at ease 'at ye maun tak' leeberties for the 
sake o' bein' facetious, ye can jist gang doon the stair wi' a 
quaiet sough." 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Cupples," said Alec, earnestly, 
for he was vexed with himself. "But ye're quite richt ; I am 
some ill at ease." 

" 1 thocht as muckle. Is the rainbow beginnin' to cast 
{fade) a wee ? Has the fit o' Iris ca'd a hole i' the airch 
o' 't ? Eh, man ! man ! Tak' to the mathemawtics and the 
anawtomy, and fling the conic sections an' the banes i' the 
face o' the bonny jaud — Iris, I mean, man, no ither, lass or 
leddy." 

For Mr. Cupples had feared, from the expression of Alec's 
face, that he had given him offense in return. A silence of 
a few seconds followed, which Alec gladly broke. 

" Are you still acting as librarian, Mr. Cupples ? " he 
said. 

" Ay. I'm actin' as librarian," returned Cupples dryly. 
" And I'm thinkin'," he added, " that the bulks are beginnin' 
to ken by this time what they're aboot, for sic a throuither 
disjaskit midden o' lere I never saw. Ye micht hae taicklet 
it wi' a graip" {a three-pronged fork, a sort of agricultural 
trident). " Are ye gaun to tak' the cheemistry alang wi' 
the naiteral philoasophy ? " 

" Ay." 

" Weel, ye jist come to me, as ye hae done afore. I'm no 
sae gude at thae things as I am at the Greek ; but I ken 
mair already nor ye'U ken whan ye ken a' 'at ye will ken. 
And that's nae flattery either to you or me, man." 

With beating heart, Alec knocked the next day at Mr. 
Eraser's door and was shown into the drawing-room., where 
sat Kate alone. The moment he saw her he knew that 
there was a gulf between them as wide as the Glamour in a 
spate. She received him kindly, nor was there any thing in 
her manner or speech by which he could define an altera- 
tion ; and yet, with that marvelous power of self-defense, 



314 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

that instinctive knowledge of spirituo-military engineering 
with which maidens are gifted, she had set up such a paUs- 
ade between them, dug such a fosse, and raised such a ram- 
part, that without knowing how the effect was produced, he 
felt that he could not approach her. It is strange how 
women can put out an invisible arm and push one off to an 
infinite removal. 

With a miserable sense of cold exhaustion and aching dis- 
appointment, he left her. She shook hands with him warmly, 
was very sorry her uncle was out, and asked him whether he 
would not call again to-morrow, when he would certainly be 
at home ? He thanked her in a voice that seemed to him 
not his own, while her voice appeared to him to come out of 
some far-off cave of the past. The cold frosty air received 
him as he stepped from the door, and its breath was friendly. 
If the winter would only freeze him to one of its icicles, and 
still that heart of his which would go on throbbing although 
there was no reason for it to throb any more ! Yet had he not 
often found her different from what he had expected ? And 
might not this be only one of her many changeable moods ? 
Perhaps. 

So feeling that he had nothing to do and only one thing 
to think about, he wandered further through the old burgh, 
past the lingering fragment of its once mighty cathedral, 
and down to the old bridge which, with its one Gothic arch 
as old as the youth of Chaucer, spanned the channel, here 
deep and narrow, of the long-drawn Highland river. Be- 
yond it lay wintry woods, clear-lined against the pale blue 
sky. Into these he wandered, and was going on, seeing 
nothing, thinking nothing, almost feeling nothing, when he 
heard a voice behind him. 

" Hillo, bantam !" it cried, and Alec did not need to turn 
to know who called. 

" I saw ye come oot o' Professor Fraser's," said Cupples, 
" and I thocht a bit dauner i' the caller air wad do me no 
ill ; sae I jist cam' efter ye." 

Then changing his tone, he added, 

" Alec, man, haud a grip o' yersel'. Dinna tyne that. 
Lowse ony thing afore ye lowse haud o' yersel'." 

" What do you mean, Mr. Cupples ? " asked Alec, not alto- 
gether willing to understand him. 

" Ye ken weel eneuch what I mean. There's a trouble 
upo' ye. I'm no speirin' ony questions. But jist haud a 
grip o' yersel'. Rainbows ! Rainbows ! We'll jist hae a 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 315 

walk thegither, an' I'll instruck ye i' the first prenciples o' 
naiteral philosophy. First, ye see, there's the attraction o' 
graivitation, and syne there's the attraction o' cohesion, and 
syne there's the attraction o' adhesion ; though I'm thinkin', 
i' the lang run, they'll be a' fun' to be ane and the same. 
And syne there's the attraction o' affeenity, whilk differs 
mair nor a tae's length frae the lave. In hit, ye see, ae 
thing taks till anither for a whilie, and hands gey and sicker 
till't, till anither comes 'at it likes better, whaurupon there's a 
proceedin' i' the Chancery o' Natur — only it disna aye haud 
lang, and there's nae lawyers' fees — and the tane's straught- 
ways divorced frae the tither." 

And so he went on, giving a kind of humorous travesty 
of a lecture on physics, which, Alec could not help perceiv- 
ing, glanced every now and then at his mental condition, 
especially when it came to treat of the mechanical powers. 
It was evident that the strange being had some perception 
of the real condition of Alec's feelings. After walking a 
couple of miles into the open country, they retraced their 
footsteps. As they approached the college, Mr. Cupples 
said : 

" Noo, Alec, ye maun gang hame to yer denner. I'll be 
hame afore nicht. And gin ye like, ye can come wi' me to 
the library the morn and I'll gie ye something to do." 

Glad of anything to occupy his thoughts. Alec went to the 
library the ne.xt day, and as Mr. Cupples was making a cata- 
logue, and at the same time a thorough change in the ar- 
rangement of the books — both to be after his own heart — 
he found plenty for him to do. 

Alec soon found his part in the catalogue work becoming 
agreeable. But although there was much to be done as well 
in mending old covers, mounting worn title-pages, and such 
like, in this department Mr. Cupples would accept no assist- 
ance. Indeed if Alec ventured to take up a book destined 
for repair, he would dart at him an anxious, almost angry 
glance, and keep watching him at uneasy intervals till he 
had laid it down again. Books were Mr. Cupples'sgold and 
jewels and furniture and fine clothes, in fact his whole gloria 
mundi. 

But the opening day was at hand, after which Alec would 
have less time. Still he resolved, as some small return for 
the kindness of Mr. Cupples, that he would continue to give 
him what help he could, for he had discovered that the pro- 
librarian lived in continual dread lest the office should be 



3l6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

permanently filled before he had completed his labor of re- 
organization. 

During the few days passed in the library, he called once 
upon Mr. Fraser, and met with a warm reception from him. 
Kate gave him a kind one as before ; but he had neither the 
satisfaction nor the pain of being alone with her. 

At the opening, appeared amongst the rest Patrick Beau- 
champ — claiming now the name and dignity of The Mac 
Chattachan, for his grandfather was dead, and he was heir 
to the property. He was, if possible, more haughty than 
before ; but students are not, as a class, ready to respond to 
claims of superiority upon such grounds as he possessed, 
and, except by a few who were naturally obsequious, he 
continued to be called Beauchamp, and by that name I shall 
call him too. 

It soon came out that when lecture-hours were over, he 
put off his lowland dress and went everywhere in Highland 
costume. Indeed on the first day Alec met him in the gloam- 
ing thus attired; and the flash of his cairngorms as he passed 
seemed to scorch his eyes, for he thought of the two on the 
pier and the miserable hour that followed. Beauchamp no 
longer attended the anatomical lectures ; and when Alec ob- 
served his absence he recalled the fact that Kate could 
never bear even a distant reference to that branch of study. 
Whether he would have gone in for it with any heartiness 
himself this session, had it not been for the good influence 
of Mr. Cupples, is more than doubtful. But he gave him 
constant aid, consisting in part of a liberal use of any kind 
of mental goad that came to his hand — sometimes praise, 
sometimes rebuke, sometimes humorous execration. 

Fortunately for the designs of Beauchamp, Mr. Fraser 
had been visiting in his mother's neighborhood, and noth- 
ing was easier for one who, like most Celts, possessed more 
than the ordinary power of ingratiating, than to make him- 
self agreeable to the old man. When he took his leave to 
return to the college, Mr. Fraser declared himself sorry that 
he had made no better acquaintance with him before, and 
begged that he would call upon him when he came up. 



CHAPTER LXVII. 

Soon after the commencement of the session, a panic 
seized the townspeople in consequence of certain reports 
connected with the school of anatomy, which stood by itself 
in a low neighborhood. They were to the effect that great 
indignities were practiced upon the remains of the subjects, 
that they were huddled into holes about the place, and so 
heedlessly, that dogs might be seen tearing portions from 
the earth. What truth there may have been at the root of 
these reports, I can not tell ; but it is probable they arose 
from some culpable carelessness of the servants. At all 
events, they were believed in the neighborhood, occupied by 
those inhabitants of the city readiest to receive and dwell 
upon any thing revolting. But what pushed the indignation 
beyond the extreme of popular endurance, was a second 
rumor, in the consternation occasioned by which the whole 
city shared : the resurrectionists were at their foul work, and 
the graveyard, the place of repose, was itself no longer a 
sanctuary ! Whether the authorities of the medical school 
had not been guilty of indifference, contenting themselves 
with asking no questions about the source whence the means 
of prosecuting their art was derived, may be a question. 
But fear altogether outstripped investigation, and those even 
who possessed unbelief, took precautions ; whence the lights 
of the watchers of the dead might be seen twinkling, far into 
the morning, in the solemn places around the city churches ; 
while many a poor creature who would have sold his wife's 
body for five pounds, was ready to tear a medical student 
to pieces on the mere chance that his scalpel had touched a 
human form stolen from the sacred inclosure. 

Now whether Beauchamp, who had watched Alec in the 
same situation before, had any thing to do with what follows 
I can not tell ; but his conduct then lays him open to sus- 
picion now. 

Alec, who found some escape if not relief from painful 
thought in the prosecution of his favorite study, was thus 
occupied one evening, no very unfrequent occurrence, by 
candle-light. He had almost reached a final understanding 
of the point in pursuit, when he was roused from his absorp- 
tion by a yell outside. He had for some time previous 



3l8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

heard a sound of gathering commotion, but had paid no 
attention to it. He started up from his stooping posture, 
and having blown out his candle, perceived by the lamps 
outside, that a crowd of faces, pale in the darkness, was 
staring through the high iron palisade which surrounded the 
school. They had seen his light, and were now watchmg 
for his coming out. He knew that upon the smallest addi- 
tional excitement the locked gates and palisade would not 
keep them off more than half a minute ; so he instantly 
barred the shutters, and betook himself to the porter's room. 
As he crossed the small open corner between the two doors, 
he heard the sough of their angry speech swelling and fall- 
ing like a wind in the upper regions of the night ; but they 
did not see him. Fortunately, there was a side door in the 
railing, seldom used ; of which the key hung in the 
porter's room. By this door Alec let himself out, and 
relocked it. But the moment he turned to go home, he 
heard an urchin, who had peeped round a corner, screech to 
the crowd across the inclosure : 

" He's oot at the back yett ! He's oot at the back yett 
and awa ' ! " 

Another yell arose, and the sound of trampling feet. 

Alec knew that his only chance lay in his heels, and took 
to them faithfully. Behind him came the crowd in hot pur- 
suit. The narrow streets rang with their shouts of execra- 
tion. Such curses could hardly be heard elsewhere in 
Europe. Alec, knowing most of the courts and passages, 
doubled on his pursuers in the hope of eluding them. But 
discovering that he had his instrument still in his hand, he 
stopped to put it down the bars of a grating, for a cut from 
it would have been most perilous, as he had been using it a 
day too soon ; and before he had gained another turning, 
his pursuers were on his track and had caught sight of him. 
But Alec's wind and muscles were both good ; and in five 
minutes more he was at the back entrance to his own lodg- 
ing, having left the mob far behind him. He darted up to 
Mr. Cupples, and as soon as he found breath enough, told 
him his adventure, saying with a laugh, as he concluded, 

" It's a mercy there's as muckle o' me to the fore as can 
tell the tale ! " 

" Jist tak' ye tent, bantam," returned Mr. Cupples, who 
had suddenly assumed a listening attitude, with his head on 
one side, " or ye mayna tell the neist. Hark ! " 

From far below arose the dull sound of many feet on the 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 319 

Stone-stairs. Mr. Cupples listened for a moment as if 
fascinated, then turning quietly in his chair, put the poker 
in the fire. Alec rose. 

" Sit down, you fool ! " cried Cupples ; and Alec 
obeyed. 

By this time the mob was thundering at the door of the 
flat below. And the fact that they knew where Alec lived 
adds to my suspicion of Beauchamp. The landlady wisely 
let them in, and for a few minutes they were busy searching 
the rooms. Then the noise of their feet was heard on the 
wooden stair leading up to the garret, whereupon Mr. Cup- 
ples turned the poker in the fire, and said to Alec, 
" Rin into that hole there, direckly." 
He pointed with the red-hot poker to the door already 
mentioned as partly sunk in the slope of the ceiling, and 
then stuck the poker in the fire again. Alec pulled the door 
open, and entering, closed it behind him. The next 
moment, guided by the light from under it, the foremost foot- 
steps reached the door, and the same instant Mr. Cupples 
appeared in it with his glowing weapon in his hand. Faces 
with flashing eyes filled the dark garret outside. 
" What do ye want ? " asked Mr. Cupples. 
" We want a resurrectioner 'at bides i' this hoose — a foul 
bane-pikin' doctor," answered a huge, black-faced smith. 
" What do ye want wi' /«>« ? " 

"What are j)'(? stan'in' jawin' there for? Haud oot o' the 
gait. Gin he bena in your box, what's the odds o' oor luikin' 
in't?" 

" Haud a quaiet sough, my man," answered Cupples, 
raising the point of the worn old weapon, the fervency of 
whose whiteness had already dimmed to a dull scaly red, 
' " or I s' lat ye ken 'at I'm i' my ain hoose. My certy ! but 
this'U gang throu ye as gin ye war sae mony kegs o' saut 
butter ! " 

And he gave a flourish with his rapier — the crowd yield- 
ing a step before it — as he asked once more — 
" What do ye want wi' him ? " 

" To ca the sowl oot o' the wame o' the deil's buckie o' 
him," said a limping ostler. 

" I s' pang the mou' o' him wi' the hip o' a corp," cried a 
pale-faced painter, who seemed himself to belong to the 
injured fraternity of corpses. 

A volley of answers too horrible for record, both in them- 
selves and in the strange devilry of their garnish of oaths, 



320 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

followed. Mr. Cupples did not flinch a step from his post. 
But, alas ! his fiery sword had by this time darkened into an 
iron poker, and the might of its enchantment vanished as 
the blackness usurped its glow. He was just going to throw 
it away, and was stretching out his other hand for his grand- 
father's broadsword, which he had put in the corner by the 
door ready to replace it, when a long arm, with a fist at the 
end of it, darted from between the heads in front of him, 
hurled him across the room, and laid him bleeding and 
senseless on his own hearth. The poker flew from his hand 
as he fell. The crowd rushed-in after him, upset his table, 
broke open the door that protected his precious books, and 
with one vigorous kick from the blacksmith's apprentice, 
sent in the door of Alec's retreat. But at that moment 
Alec was contemplating the crowd below from a regal seat 
between two red chimney-pots. 

For as soon as he had drawn-to the door of the closet, in- 
stead of finding darkness, he became aware of moonshine, 
coming through a door that led out upon the roof. This he 
managed to open, and found himself free of the first floor of 
the habitable earth, the cat-walk of the world. As steady 
in foot and brain as any sailor, he scrambled up the roof, 
seated himself as I have said, and gave himself up to the 
situation. A sort of stubby underwood of chimney-pots 
grew all about him out of red and blue ridges. Above him 
the stars shone dim in the light of the moon, which cast 
opal tints all around her on the white clouds ; and beneath 
him was a terrible dark abyss, full of raging men, dimly 
lighted with lamps. Cavernous clefts yawned in all direc- 
tions, in the side of which lived men and women and chil- 
dren. What aseething of human emotions was down there ! 
Would they ever be sublimed out of that torture-pit into the 
pure air of the still heaven, in which the moon rode like the 
very throne of peace ? 

Alec had gone through enough of trouble already to be 
able to feel some such passing sympathy for the dwellers in 
the city below. But the sounds of search in the closet re- 
called him to a sense of his position. If his pursuers looked 
out at the door, they would see him at once. He was creep- 
ing round to the other side of the chimney to cower in its 
shadow, when a sudden bellow from the street apprised him 
that the movement had discovered him to the crowd. 
Presently stones came flying about the chimneys, and a busy 
little demon bounded into the house to tell the ringleaders 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 321 

that he was on the roof. He therefore slid down the slope 
away from the street, and passed on to the roof of the next 
house, and thence to the third. 

Arriving at a dingy dormer window, he found that it 
opened with ease, admitting him into a little room crowded 
with dusty books and cobwebs. He knew then that he was 
in the territorial outskirts of a certain second-hand book- 
seller, with whom he had occasional dealings. He closed 
the window, and sat down upon a pile of neglected volumes. 
The moon shining through the clouded window revealed 
rows of books all about him, of which he could not read 
even the names. But he was in no want of the interest they 
might have afforded him. His thoughts turned to Kate. 
She always behaved to him so that he felt both hurt and re- 
pelled, and found it impossible to go to her so often as he 
would. Yet now, when seated in the solitude of this refuge, 
his thoughts went back to her tenderly ; for to her they 
always returned like birds to their tree, from all the regions 
whither the energetic dispersion of Mr. Cupples might have 
scattered them for their pickings of intellectual crumbs. 
Now, however, it was but as to a leafless wintry tree, instead 
of a nest bowered in green leaves. Yet he was surprised to 
find that he was not ten times more miserable ; the fact 
being that, as he had no reason to fear that she preferred 
any one else, there was plenty of moorland space left for 
Hope to grow upon. And Alec's was one of those natures 
that sow Hope everywhere. All that such need is room to 
sow. Take that away and they are desperate. Alec did 
not know what advantage Beauchamp had been taking of 
the Professor's invitation to visit him. 

After a time the tumult in the street gradually died away, 
and Alec thought he might venture to return to Mr. Cupples. 
Clambering back over the roofs, he entered, and found the 
inner door of the closet broken from its hinges. As he 
moved it aside, a cry of startled fear discovered that his 
landlady was in the room. 

" Guid preserve's, Mr. Forbes ! " she cried ; ** whaur 
come ye frae, and what hae ye been aboot, to raise the haill 
toon upo' ye ? I trust ye hae nae legs or airms o' a cauld 
corp aboot ye. The fowk i' the back streets canna bide 
that. An' I winna alloo 't i' my hoose. Jist luik at puir 
Mr. Cupples here." 

Mr. Cupples lay on the bed, with his head bound in a 
bloody bandage. He had fallen upon the fender, and a bad 



322 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

cut had been the consequence. He held out his hand to 
Alec, and said feebly, 

" Bantam, I thocht ye had yer neck thrawn or this 
time. Hoo, the muckle deil ! did ye win oot o' their 
grips ? " 

" By playin' the cat a wee," answered Alec. 

" It's the first time," remarked Mr. Cupples, " I ever kent 
I had a door to the lift (sM'). But faith ! the sowl o' me 
was nearhan' gaein' out at this new ane i' my ain riggin. 
Gin it hadna been for the guidwife here, 'at cam' up, efter 
the clanjamfrie had ta'en themsel's aff, an' fand me lying 
upo' the hearthstane, I wad hae been deid or noo. Was my 
held aneath the grate, guidwife ? " 

'' Na, nae freely that, Mr. Cupples ; but the blude o' 't 
was. And ye maun jist haud yer tongue, and lie still. Mr. 
Forbes, ye maun jist come doon wi' me ; for he winna 
baud's tongue's lang's ye're there. I'll jist mak' a cup o* 
tay till him." 

*' Tay, guidwife ! Deil slocken himsel' wi yer tay ! Gie 
me a sook o' the tappit hen." 

" 'Deed, Mr. Cupples, ye s' hae neither sook nor sipple o' 
that spring." 

'* Ye rigwiddie carlin ! " grinned the patient. 

" Gin ye dinna haud yer tongue, I'll gang for the 
doctor." 

" I'll fling him doon the stair. — Here's doctor eneuch ! " 
he added, looking at Alec. " Gie me half a glaiss, 
nate." 

" Never a glaiss nor glaiss sail ye hae frae my han*, Mr. 
Cupples. It wad be the deid o' ye. And forbye, thae ill- 
faured gutter-partans (kennel-crabs) toomed the pig afore 
they gaed. And guid faith ! it was the only wise-like thing 
they did. Fess the twa halves o' 't, Mr. Forbes, an' lat him 
see 't wi' the een o' misbelief." 

" Gang oot o' my chaumer wi' yer havers," cried Mr. 
Cupples, " and lea' me wi' Alec Forbes. He winna deave 
me wi' his clash." 

" 'Deed, I'll no lea' twa sic fules thegither. Come doon 
the stair direckly, Mr. F'orbes." 

Alec saw that it was better to obey. He went up on the 
sly in the course of the evening, however, but peeping in 
and seeing that he slept, came down again. He insisted 
upon sitting up with him though, to which, after repeated 
vows of prudence and caution, their landlady consented. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 323 

He was restless and feverish during the night. Alec gave 
him some water. He drank it eagerly. A flash of his hu- 
mor broke through the cloud of his suffering as he returned 
the tumbler. 

" Eh, man ! that's gran' tipple," he said. ** Hoo do ye 
ca' 't?" 

In the morning he was better ; but quite unable to 
rise. The poor fellow had very little blood for ordinary 
organic purposes, and the loss of any was a serious matter 
to him. 

" I canna lift my held, Alec," he said. ** Gin that thrawn 
wife wad hae but gi'en me a drappy o' whusky, I wad hae 
been a' richt." 

" Jist lie ye still, Mr. Cupples," said Alec. " I winna 
gang to the class the day. I'll bide wi' you." 

" Ye'll do nae sic thing. What's to come o' the bulks for- 
bye, wantin' you or me to luik efter them ? An' the sen- 
awtus'll be sayin' that I got my heid clured wi' fa'in' agen 
the curbstane." 

" I'll tell them a' aboot it, ane efter anither o' them." 

" Ay ; jist do sae. Tell them a' about it. It wad brak 
my hert to pairt wi' the bulks afore I got them pitten in 
dacent order. Faith ! I wadna lie still i' my coffin. I wad 
be thrawin' and turnin', and curfufflin' a' my win'in' sheet, 
sae that I wadna be respectable whan I bude to get up 
again. Sae ye maunna lat them think that I'm ower druck- 
en for the bulks to keep company wi', ye ken." 

Alec promised to do all he could to keep such a false con- 
clusion from entering the minds of the senatus, and, satis- 
fied that he would best serve the interests of Mr. Cupples 
by doing so at once, set off for college, to call on the pro- 
fessors before lectures. 

The moment he was out of the room, Mr. Cupples got 
out of bed, and crawled to the cupboard. To his mortifica- 
tion, however, he found that what his landlady had said was 
in the main true ; for the rascals had not left a spoonful 
either in the bottle which he used as a decanter, or in the 
store-bottle called the tappit {crested) hen by way of pre- 
eminence. He drained the few drops which had gathered 
from the sides of the latter, for it was not in two halves as 
she had represented, and crawled back to bed. A fresh 
access of fever was the consequence of the exertion. It was 
many days before he was able to rise. 

After the morning-classes were over, Alec went to tell 



324 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Mr. Fraser, the only professor whom he had not already 
seen, about his adventure, and the consequences of the 
librarian's generous interference. 

*' I was uneasy about you, Mr. Forbes," said the profes- 
sor, " for I heard from your friend Beauchamp that you had 
got into a row with the blackguards, but he did not know 
how you had come off." 

His friend Beauchamp ! How did he know about it ? 
And when could he have told Mr. Fraser? — But Kate entered, 
and Alec forgot Beauchamp. She hesitated, but advanced 
and held out her hand. Alec took it, but felt it tremble in 
his with a backward motion as of reluctance, and he knew 
that another thickness of the parting veil had fallen between 
her and him. 

" Will you stay and take tea with us ? " asked the profes- 
sor. " You never come to see us now." 

Alec stammered out an unintelligible excuse. 

** Your friend Beauchamp will be here," continued Mr. 
Fraser. 

** I fear Mr. Beauchamp is no friend of mine," said 
Alec. 

" Why do you think that ? He speaks very kindly of you 
— always." 

Alec made no reply. Ugly things were vaguely showing 
themselves through a fog. 

Kate left the room. 

*' You had better stay," said the old man kindly. 

" I was up all night with Mr. Cupples," answered Alec, 
longing to be, alone that he might think things out, " and I 
am anxious about him. I should be quite uneasy if I did 
stay — thank you, Mr. Fraser." 

" Ah ! well ; your excuse is a good one," answered the 
old man. And they parted. 

Alec went home with such a raging jealousy in his heart, 
that he almost forgot Mr. Cupples, and scarcely cared how 
he might find him. For this was the first time he had heard 
of any acquaintance between the professor and Beauchamp. 
And why should Kate hesitate to shake hands with him ? 
He recalled how her hand trembled and fluttered on hisarrn 
when he spoke of the red stain on the water ; and how she 
had declined to shake hands with him when he told her that 
he had come from the dissecting-room. And the conviction 
seized him that Beauchamp had been working on her mor- 
bid sensitiveness to his disadvantage — taking his revenge 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 325 

on him, by making the girl whom he worshiped shrink 
from him with irrepressible loathing. 

And in the lulls of his rage and jealousy, he had some 
glimpses into Kate's character. Not that he was capable of 
thinking about it ; but flashes of reality came once and again 
across the vapors of passion. He saw too that her nerves 
came, as it were, nearer the surface than those of other 
people, and that thence she was exposed to those sudden 
changes of feeling which had so often bewildered him. 
And now that delicate creature was in the hands of Beau- 
champ — a selfish and vulgar-minded fellow ! That he whom 
he had heard insult a dead woman, and whom he had chas- 
tised for it, should dare to touch Kate ! His very touch 
was defilement. But what could he do ? Alas ! he could 
only hate. And what was that, if Kate should love ! But 
she could not love him already. He would tell her what 
kind of a person he was. But she would not believe him, 
and would set it down to jealousy. And it would be mean 
to tell her. Was Kate then to be left to such a fate without 
a word of warning ? He would tell her, and let her despise 
him. — And so the storm raged all the way home. His only 
comfort lay in saying over and over again that Kate could 
not be in love with him yet. 

But if he had seen Kate, that same evening, looking up 
into Beauchamp's face with a beauty in her own such as he had 
never beheld there, a beauty more than her face could hold, 
and overflowing in light from her eyes, he would have found 
this poor reed of comfort break in his hand and pierce his 
heart. Nor could all his hatred have blinded him to the 
fact that Beauchamp looked splendid — his pale face, with 
its fine, regular, clear-cut features, reflecting the glow of hers, 
and his Highland dress setting off to full advantage his 
breadth of shoulders and commanding height. Kate had at 
last found one to whom she could look up, in whom she 
could trust ! 

He had taken her by storm, and yet not without well-laid 
schemes. For instance, having discovered her admiration 
of Byron, instead of setting himself, like Alec, to make him- 
self acquainted with that poet, by which he could have gained 
no advantage over her, he made himself her pupil, and 
listened to every thing she had to say about Byron as to a 
new revelation. But, at the same time, he began to study 
Shelley ; and, in a few days was able to introduce, with 
sufficient application, one or two passages gathered from his 



326 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

pages. Now, to a mind like that of Kate, with a strong lean- 
ing to the fantastic and strange, there was that in Shelley 
which quite overcrowed Byron. She listened with breathless 
wonder and the feeling that now at last she had found a 
poet just to her mind, who could raise visions of a wilder 
beauty than had ever crossed the horizon of her imagination. 
And the fountain whence she drank the charmed water of 
this delight was the lips of this grand youth, all nobleness 
and devotion. And how wide his reading must be, seeing 
he knew a writer so well, of whom she had scarcely heard ! 

Shelley enabled Beauchamp to make the same discovery, 
with regard to Kate's peculiar constitution, on the verge of 
which Alec had lingered so long. For upon one occasion, 
when he quoted a few lines from the Sensitive Plant — if ever 
there was a Sensitive Plant in the human garden it was Kate 
— she turned *' white with the whiteness of what is dead," 
shuddered, and breathed as if in the sensible presence of 
something disgusting. And the cunning Celt perceived in 
this emotion not merely an indication of what he must avoid, 
but a means as well of injuring him whose rival he had 
become for the sake of injury. Both to uncle and niece he 
had always spoken of Alec in a familiar and friendly man- 
ner ; and now, he would occasionally drop a word or two 
with reference to him and break off with a laugh. 

"What do you mean, Mr. Beauchamp?" said Kate on 
one of these occasions. 

" I was only thinking how Forbes would enjoy some lines 
I found in Shelley yesterday." 

" What are they ? " 

" Ah, I mu.st not repeat them to you. You would turn 
pale again, and it would kill me to see your white face." 

Whereupon Kate pressed the question no further, and an 
additional feeling of discomfort associated itself with the 
name of Alec Forbes. 



CHAPTER LXVIII. 



I HAVE said that Mrs. Forbes brought Annie home with 
her. For several months she lay in her own little room at 
Howglen. Mrs. Forbes was dreadfully anxious about her, 
often fearing much that her son's heroism had only pro- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 327 

longed the process — that she was dying notwithstanding 
from the effects of that awful night. At length on a morn- 
ing in February, the first wave of the feebly returning flow of 
the life-tide visited her heart, and she opened her eyes seek- 
ingly. Through her little window, at which in summer she 
knew that the honeysuckle leaned in as if peeping and heark- 
eningjshe saw the country wrapped in a winding-sheet of snow, 
through which patches of bright green had begun to dawn, just 
as her life had begun to show its returning bloom above the 
wan waves of death. — Sickness is just a fight between life 
and death. — A thrill of gladness, too pleasant to be borne 
without tears, made her close her eyes. They throbbed and 
ached beneath their lids, and the hot tears ran down her 
cheeks. It was not gladness for this reason or for that, but 
the essential gladness of being that made her weep : there 
lay the world, white and green ; and here lay she, faint and 
alive. And nothing was wanting to the gladness and kind- 
ness of Mrs. Forbes but the indescribable aroma of mother- 
hood, which she was not divine-woman enough to generate, 
save toward the offspring of her own body ; and that Annie 
did not miss much, because all knowledge she had of such 
<' heavenly health" was associated with the memory of her 
father. 

As the spring advanced, her strength increased, till she 
became able to move about the house again. Nothing was 
said of her return to the Bruces, who were not more desirous 
of having her than Mrs. Forbes was of parting with her. But 
if there had ever been any danger of Alec's falling in love 
with Annie, there was much more now. For as her health 
returned it became evident that a change had passed upon 
her. She had always been a womanly child ; now she was 
a childlike woman. Her eyes had grown deeper, and the 
outlines of her form more graceful ; and a flush as of sun- 
rise dawned oftener over the white roses of her cheeks. She 
had ripened under the snow of her sickness. She had not 
grown much, and was rather under than over the ordinary 
height ; but her shape produced the impression of tallness, 
and suggested no probability of further growth. When first 
Thomas Crann saw her after her illness, he held her at arm's 
length, and gazed at her. 

" Eh, lassie ! " he said, "ye're grown a wumman ! Ye'U 
hae the bigger hert to love the Lord wi'. I thocht He wad 
hae ta'en ye awa' a bairn, afore ever we had seen what ye 
wad turn oot ; and sair wad I hae missed ye, bairn ! And 



328 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

a' the sairer that I hae lost auld Tibbie. A man canna do 
weel withoot some woman or ither to tell him the trowth. I 
wiss sair that I hadna been sae cankert wi' her, whiles." 

" I never heard her say that ye was ever cankert, Thomas." 

" No, I daursay no. She wadna say't. She wadna say't. 
She was a kin'-herted auld body." 

" But she didna like to be ca'd auld," interposed Annie, 
with a smile half in sad reminiscence of her friend's peculiar- 
ities, half in gentle humor, seeking to turn the conversation, 
and so divert Thomas from further self-accusation. 

" Aweel, she's nae that auld noo ! " he answered with a 
responsive smile. " Eh, lassie ! it maun be a fine thing to 
hae the wisdom o' age alang wi' the licht hert and the Strang 
banes o' youth. I'm growin' some auld mysel'. I was ance 
prood o' that airm " — and it was a brawny right arm he 
stretched out — *' and there was no man within ten mile o' 
Glamerton 'at cud lift what I cud lift whan I was five-and- 
twenty. I daursay that luiks gey auld to you, no ? — But 
ony lad i' the mason-trade micht ding me at liftin' noo ; for 
I'm stiff i' the back, and my airm's jist reid-het whiles wi' the 
rheumateeze ; and gin I lift ony thing by ordinar', it gars 
me host like a cat wi' the backbane o' a herrin' in her 
thrapple. — Ye'll be gaun back to Robert Bruce or lang, I'm 
thinkin'." 

" I dinna ken. The mistress has said naething aboot it 
yet. And I'm in nae hurry, I can tell ye, Thomas." 

"Weel, I daursay no. Ye maun tak' a heap o' care, lass, 
that the plenty and content ye're livin' in doesna spring up 
and choke the word." 

" Ay, Thomas," answered Annie with a smile ; " it's a fine 
thing to hae reamy milk to yer parritch, in place o' sky-blue 
to meal and water." 

What could ail the lassie ? She had never spoken lightly 
about any thing before. Was she too, like his old friend 
Alec, forgetting the splendor of her high calling ? 

Such was the thought that passed through Thomas's 
mind ; but the truth was that, under the genial influences of 
home tenderness and early womanhood, a little spring of 
gentle humor had begun to flow softly through the quiet 
fields of her childlike nature. 

The mason gazed at her doubtfully, and was troubled. 
Annie saw his discomposure, and taking his great hand in 
her two little ones, looked full into his cold gray eyes, and 
said, still smiling, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 329 

" Eh, Thomas ! wadna ye hae a body male' a grainy fun 
whiles whan it comes o' itsel' like ? " 

But Thomas, anxious about the state of mind that pro- 
duced the change, did not show himself satisfied. 

" We dinna hear 'at the Saviour himsel' ever sae muckle 
as smiled," said he. 

" Weel, that wad hae been little wonner, wi' what he had 
upo' 'm. But I'm nae sure that ee didna, for a' that. Fowk 
disna aye tell whan a body lauchs. I'm thinkin' gin ane o' 
the bairnies that he took upo' 's knee, — an' he was ill-pleased 
wi' them 'at wad hae sheued them awa', — gin ane o' them had 
hauden up his wee timmer horsie, wi' a broken leg, and had 
prayed him to work a miracle an' men' the leg, he wadna hae 
wrocht a miracle maybe, I daursay, but he wad hae smilet, 
or maybe lauchen a wee, and he wad hae men't the leg 
some gait or ither to please the bairnie. And gin't had been 
me, I wad raither hae had the men'in' o' 's ain twa ban's, wi' 
a knife to help them maybe, nor twenty miracles upo' 't." 

Thomas gazed at her for a moment in silence. Then 
with a slow shake of the head, and a full-blown smile on his 
rugged face, he said : 

" Ye're a curious cratur', Annie. I dinna richtly ken 
what to mak' o' ye whiles. Ye're like a suckin' bairn and a 
gran'-mither baith in ane. But I'm thinkin', atween the twa, 
ye're maistly i' the right. And ye hae set mericht afore noo. 
— Sae ye're nae gaun hame to the Bruces again ? " 

" I didna say that," answered Annie ; " I only said I had 
h'ard naething aboot it yet." 

" What for dinna ye jine the kirk, noo ? " said Thomas 
abruptly, after having tried in vain to find a gradual intro- 
duction to the question. " Dinna ye think it's a deowty to 
keep in min' what the great Shepherd did for his ain chosen 
flock ? " 

" Nae doot o' that, Thomas. But I never thoucht o' sic 
a thing. I dinna even ken 'at I am ane o' the elec'." 

" Ye dinna ken yet ? " 

" No," answered Annie sorrowfully. 

" I wonner at that," returned Thomas. 

"And, forbye," resumed Annie, "gin I war, I'm no guid 
eneuch yet. An' besides that — " 

But here she stopped and remained silent. 

" What was ye gaun to say ? " asked Thomas, encourag- 
ingly. 

But Annie did not reply. She looked perplexed. With 



33© ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the intuition of sympathy springing from like thoughts, 
Thomas guessed what was moving in her mind. 

" I ken what ye're thinkin', lassie," he said. " Ye canna 
help thinkin' that there's some in oor mids wha may as weel 
be nameless, for that they are no credit to us, neyther wad 
be to ony body o' whuch they war jined members. Isna 
that yer trouble, bairn ? " 

" 'Deed is't, in pairt, Thomas. But it's mair the state o' 
my ain feelin's wi' regaird to ane in particular, nor the fac' 
that he's a member o' the kirk. Gin I cud be sure that Mr, 
Bruce wad aye be at the ither en' o' the seat, I micht think 
o' 't. It's no that I wadna let him tak' it. I daurna meddle 
wi' that. But gin I had to tak' it frae his han', I jist cudna 
regaird it as the sacred thing that it bude to be con- 
sidered." 

Thomas remained silent, with a downcast, thoughtful 
look. 

It may be necessary to state, in explanation of Annie's 
feelings, that the Scotch, at the celebration of the Eucharist, 
sit in long rows, and pass the bread, each breaking off a 
portion for himself, and the wine, from one to the other. 

The compressed lips and motionless countenance of 
Thomas, showed that he was thinking more than he was 
prepared to clothe in words. After standing thus for a few 
moments, he lifted his head, and returning no answer to 
Annie's exposition of her feelings, bade her good-by, and 
walked away. 

The drift of Thomas's reflections I shall now help my 
reader to see. 

Their appetite for prophecy having assuaged with the 
assuaging flood, the people of Glamerton had no capacity 
for excitement left. The consequence was that the con- 
gregations, especially the evening congregations, began at 
once to diminish. Having once ceased to feel anxiety about 
some vague impending vengeance, comparatively few chose 
to be rated any longer about their sins ; while some seeing 
how in the spate the righteous were taken and the wicked 
left, felt themselves aggrieved, and staid at home on the 
Sunday nights. Nor was the deterioration confined to the 
congregations. Not only had the novelty of Mr. Turnbull's 
style worn off, but he felt himself that he could not preach 
with the same fervor as before ; the fact being that he had 
exhausted the electric region of the spiritual brain, and 
without repose it could never fulminate again. A second 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 331 

and worse consequence was that, in his dissatisfaction with 
himself, he attempted to get up his former excitement by 
preaching as if he were still under its influence. Upon 
this his conscience sternly accused him of hypocrisy and 
pretense, which reacted in paralysis ; and the whole business 
became wretched. Even his greatest admirers were com- 
pelled to acknowledge that Mr. TurnbuU had lost much of 
his unction, and that except the Spirit was poured down 
upon them from on high, their prospects were very dis- 
heartening. For even the best men in the Church, as, follow- 
ing apostolic example without regard to circumstance, they 
called each separate community of the initiate, were worldly 
enough to judge of the degree of heavenly favor shown 
them, not by the love they bore to the truth and to each 
other, not by the purity of their collective acts and the prev- 
alence of a high standard of morality in the individual- 
poor as even these divine favors would have been as a 
measure of the divine favor — but, in a great degree, by the 
success which attended the preaching of their pastor, in 
adding to their esoteric communion, and, still worse, by the 
numbers which repaired to their court of the Gentiles — ■ 
their exoteric congregation. Nor, it must be confessed, was 
even Thomas Crann, in many things so wise and good, and 
in all things so aspiring, an exception. Pondering over the 
signs of disfavor and decay, he arrived at the conclusion 
that there must be an Achan in the camp. And indeed if 
there were an Achan, he had known well enough, for a long 
time, who would turn out to represent that typical person. 
Of course, it could be no other than the money-loving, the 
mammon-worshiping Robert Bruce. When, therefore, he 
found that such a pearl of price as Annie Anderson was ex- 
cluded from their " little heaven below," by the presence of 
this possible anti-typical Achan, he could not help feeling 
his original conviction abundantly strengthened. But he 
did not see what could be done. 

Meantime, on the loving, long-remembering Annie dawned 
a great pleasure. James Dow came to see her, and had a 
long interview with Mrs. Forbes, the result of which she 
learned after his departure. One of the farm-servants who 
had been at Howglen for some j^ears was going to leave at 
the next term, and Mrs. Forbes had asked Dow whether he 
knew of one to take his place. ^Vhe^eupon he had offered 
himself, and they had arranged every thing for his taking 
the position of grieve or foreman, which post he had occupied 



332 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

with James Anderson, and was at present occupying some 
ten or twelve miles up the hill-country. Few things could 
have pleased Mrs. Forbes more ; for James Dow was recog- 
nized throughout the country as the very pattern of what a 
foreman ought to be ; his character for saving his employers 
all possible expense, having more than its just proportion in 
generating this reputation ; for this is a capacity which, in a 
poor country where it is next to impossible to be enterprising, 
will naturally receive at least its full share of commendation. 
Of late, Mrs. Forbes had found it more difficult to meet her 
current expenses ; for Alec's requirements at college were 
heavier this year than they had been before ; so that, much 
to her annoyance, she had been compelled to delay the last 
half-yearly payment of Bruce's interest. Nor could she 
easily bear to recall the expression upon his keen ferret-like 
face when she informed him that it would be more con- 
venient to pay the money a month hence. That month had 
passed, and another, before she had been able to do so. For 
although the home-expenses upon a farm in Scotland are very 
small, yet in the midst of plenty, money is often scarce 
enough. Now, however, she hoped that, with James Dow's 
management, things would go better, and she would be able 
to hold her mental head a little higher in her own presence. 
So she was happy, knowing nothing of the cloud that was 
gathering over the far-off university, soon to sweep north- 
ward, and envelop Howglen in its dusty folds. 



CHAPTER LXIX. 



A STATE like something of emotional stupefaction suc- 
ceeded to the mental tumult of that evening when Alec first 
saw that his worst and wildest forebodings might be even 
already on the point of realization. The poor glimmer of 
hope that remained was only enough to show how terrible 
was the darkness around it. It was well for him that 
gratitude required of him some ministrations beyond those 
which he took out of his landlady's hands the moment he 
came in from college. His custom was to carry his books 
to the sick man's room, and wearily pretend, without even 
seeming, to be occupied with them. While thus unemployed 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. ;^;^^ 

he did not know how anxiously he was watched by the big 
blue eyes of his friend, shining like two fallen stars from the 
cavern of his bed. But, as I have said, he had more to do 
for him than merely to supply his few wants when he came 
home. For the patient's uneasiness about the books and 
the catalogue led him to offer not only to minister to the 
wants of the students in the middle of the day, but to spend 
an hour or two every evening in carrying on the catalogue. 
This engagement was a great relief to the pro-librarian, and 
he improved more rapidly thenceforth. Whether Alec's 
labor was lightened or not by the fact that he had seen 
Kate pass the windows, I can not tell, but I think any kind 
of emotion lightens labor. And I think the labor lightened 
his pain ; and I know that he was not so absorbed in his un- 
happiness, though at times the flashes of a keen agony broke 
from the dull cloud of his misery, as to perform the duties 
he had undertaken in a perfunctory manner. The cata- 
logue made slow but steady progress. And so did the 
librarian. 

" Mr. Forbes," said Mr. Fraser, looking at him kindly, 
one morning after the lecture, " you are a great stranger now. 
Won't you come and spend to-morrow evening with us ? We 
are going to have a little party. It is my birthday, though 
I'm sure I don't know why an old man like me should have 
any birthdays. But it's not my doing. Kate found it out, 
and she would have a merry-making. I think myself after 
a man's forty, he should go back to thirty-nine, thirty-eight, 
and so on, indicating his progress towards none at all. That 
gives him a good sweep before he comes to two, one, naught. 
At which rate I shall be thirteen to-morrow." 

The old man had rattled on as if he saw the cloud on 
Alec's face and would dispel it by kindness. I believe he 
was uneasy about him. Whether he divined the real cause 
of his gloom, or feared that he was getting into bad ways, I 
can not tell. 

He did not succeed, however, in dispelling the cloud ; for 
the thought at this moment passing through Alec's mind 
was, that Kate had wanted the merry-making in order to 
have Beauchamp there. But with a feeling like that which 
makes one irritate a smarting wound, or urge on an aching 
tooth, he resolved to go and have his pain in earnest. 

He was the first to arrive. 

Kate was in the drawing-room at the piano, radiant in 
white — lovelier than ever. She rose and met him with some 



■534 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

embarrassment, which she tried to cover under more than 
usual kindness. She had not wished Alec to be one of the 
company, knowing it would make him unhappy and her 
uncomfortable. 

" Oh Kate ! " said Alec, overpowered with her loveliness. 

Kate took it for a reproach, and making no reply, with- 
drew her hand and turned away. Alec saw as she turned 
that all the light had gone out of her face. But that instant 
Beauchamp entered, and as she turned once more to greet 
him, the light flashed from her face and her eyes, as if her 
heart had been a fountain of rosy flame. Beauchamp was 
magnificent, the rather quiet tartan of his clan being lighted 
up with all the silver and jewels of which the dress admits. 
In the hilt of his dirk, in his brooch, and for buttons, he 
wore a set of old family topazes, instead of the commoner 
cairngorm, so that as he entered he flashed golden light from 
the dark green cloud of his tartan. Not observing Alec, he 
advanced to Kate with the confidence of an accepted lover ; 
but some motion of her hand or glance from her eyes warned 
him in time. He looked round, started a little, and greeted 
him with a slight bow, of which Alec took no notice. He 
then turned to Kate, and began to talk in a low tone, to 
which she listened with her head hanging like the topmost 
bell of a wild hyacinth. As he looked, the last sickly glim- 
mer of Alec's hope died out in darkness. But he bore up 
in bitterness, and a demon awoke in him laughing. He saw 
the smooth handsome face, the veil of so much that was 
mean and wretched, bending over the loveliness he loved^ 
yet the demon in him only laughed. 

It may appear strange that they should behave so like 
lovers in the presence of any third person, much more in the 
presence of Alec. But Beauchamp had now made progress 
enough to secure his revenge of mortification ; and for that, 
with the power which he had acquired over Kate's sensitive 
nature, he drew her into the sphere of his flaunted triumph, 
and made her wound Alec to the root of his vulnerable being. 
Had Alec then seen his own face, he would have seen upon it 
the sneer that he hated so much upon that of Beauchamp. For 
all wickedness tends to destroy individuality, and declining 
natures assimilate as they sink. 

Other visitors arrived, and Alec found a strange delight 
in behaving as if he knew of no hidden wound, and his mind 
were in a state of absolute fieglig^. But how would he meet 
the cold wind blowing over the desolate links ? 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 335 

Some music, and a good deal of provincial talk — not 
always less human and elevating than the metropolitan — 
followed. Beauchamp moderated his attentions to Kate ; 
but Alec saw that it was in compliance with his desire that, 
though reluctant, she went a second time to the piano. The 
song she had just sung was insignificant enough ; but the 
second was one of the ballads of her old Thulian nurse, and 
had the merit of an antique northern foundation at least, 
although it had evidently passed through the hands of a 
lowland poet before it had, in its present form, found its way 
northwards again to the Shetland Isles. The first tone of 
the ghostly music startled Alec, and would have arrested 
him even if the voice had not been Kate's. 

" Sweep up the flure, Janet. 
Put on anither peat. 
It's a lown and starry nicht, Janet, 
And neither cauld nor weet. 

And it's open boose we keep the nicht 

For ony that may be out. 
It's the nicht atwcen the Sancts and Souls, 

Whan the bodiless gang aboot. 

Set the chairs back to the wa', Janet ; 

Mak' ready for quaiet fowk. 
Hae a* thing as clean as a win'in' sheet : 

They comena ilka ook. 

There's a spale * upo' the flure, Janet ; 

And there s a rowan-berry : 
Sweep them into the fire, Janet, — 

Theyll be welcomer than merry. 

Syne set open the door. Janet — 

Wide open for wha kens wha ; 
As ye come ben to yer bed, Janet, 

Set it open to the wa'. " 

She set the chairs back to the wa', 

But ane made o' the birk ; 
She sweepit the flure,' — left that ae spale, 

A lang spale o' the aik. 

The nicht was lowne, and the stars sat still, 

Aglintin' doon the sky ; 
And the souls crap oot o' their mooly graves, 

A' dank wi' lyin' by. 

* A wood-shaving. 



336 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

She had set the door wide to the wa'. 

And blawn the peats rosy reid ; 
They war shoonless feet gaed cot and in, 

Nor clampit as they gaed. 

When midnicht cam', the mither rase — 

She wad gae see and hear. 
Back she cam' wi' a glowerin' face 

And sloomin' wi' verra fear. 

" There's ane o' them sittin' afore the fire ! 
Janet, gang na to see : 
Ye left a chair afore the fire, 

Whaur I tauld ye nae chair sud be." 

Janet she smiled in her mother's face : 

She had brunt the roddin reid ; 
And she left aneath the birkin chair 

The spale frae a coffin lid. 

She rase and she gaed butt the hoose. 

Aye steekin' door and door. 
Three hours gaed by or her mother heard 

Her fit upo' the floor. 

But whan the gray cock crew, she heard 

The sound o' shoeless feet ; 
When the red cock crew, she heard the door, 

And a sough o' wind and weet. 

And Janet cam' back wi' a wan face. 

But never a word said she ; 
No man ever heard her voice lood cot, 

It cam' like frae ower the sea. 

And no man ever heard her lauch, 

Nor yet say alas or wae ; 
But a smile aye glimmert on her wan face. 

Like the moonlicht on the sea. 

And ilka nicht 'tween the Sancts and the Souls, 

Wide open she set the door ; 
And she mendit the fire, and she left ae chair, 

And that spale upo' the floor. 

And at midnicht she gaed butt the hoose, 

Aye steekin' door and door. 
Whan the reid cock crew, she cam' benn the hoose, 

Aye wanner than afore — 

Wanner her face, and sweeter her smile ; 

Till the seventh All Souls' eve. 
Her mother she heard the shoeless feet. 

Said " she's comin' I believe." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 337 

But she camna benn, and her mother lay ; 

For fear she cudna stan'. 
But up she rase and benn she gaed. 

When the gowden cock had crawn. 

And Janet sat upo' the chair, 

White as the day did daw ; 
Her smile was a sunlight left on the sea, 

Whan the sun has gane awa'. 

Alec had never till now heard her sing really. Wild 
music and eerie ballad together filled and absorbed him. 
He was still gazing at her lovely head, when the last wailing 
sounds of the accompaniment ceased, and her face turned 
round, white as Janet's. She gave one glance of unutterable 
feeling up into Beauchamp's face, and hiding her own in her 
handkerchief, sobbed out, ** You would make me sing it ! " 
and left the room. 

Alec's heart swelled with indignant sympathy. But what 
could he do ? The room became insupportable the moment 
she had quitted it and he made his way to the door. As he 
opened it, he could not help glancing at Beauchamp. Instead 
of the dismay he expected, he saw triumph on his pale 
countenance, and in the curl of his scarred lip. — He flew 
frantic from the house. The sky was crowded with the 
watchings of starry eyes. To his fancy, they were like 
Beauchamp's, and he hated them. Seeking refuge from 
their gaze, he rushed to the library, and threw himself on a 
heap of foreign books, which he had that morning arranged 
for binding. A ghostly glimmer from the snow, and the 
stars overhead, made the darkness thinner about the win- 
dows ; but there was no other light in the place ; and there 
he lay, feeling darker within than the night around him. 
Kate was weeping in her room ; that contemptible ape had 
wounded her; and instead of being sorry for it, was rejoicing 
in his power. And he could not go to her ; she would receive 
no comfort from him. 

It was a bitter hour. Eternity must be very rich to make 
up for some such hours. 

He had lain a long time with his face down upon the 
books, when he suddenly started and listened. He heard 
the sound of an opening door, but not of the door in ordi- 
nary use. Thinking it proceeded from some thievish intent, 
he kept still. There was another door, in a corner, covered 
with books, but it was never opened at all. It communicated 



338 ALEC FORBES OF HOWCLEN. 

with a part of the buildings of the quadrangle which had 
been used for the abode of the students under a former 
economy. It had been abandoned now for many years, as 
none slept any longer within the walls of the college. Alec 
knew all this, but he did not know that there was also a com- 
munication between this empty region and Mr. Fraser's 
house ; or that the library had been used before as a tryst by 
Beauchamp and Kate. 

The door closed, and the light of a lantern flashed to the 
ceiling. Wondering that such a place should excite the 
cupidity of housebreakers, yet convinced that such the 
intruders were, Alec moved gently into the embrasure of 
one of the windows, against the corner of which abutted a 
screen of book-shelves. A certain light rustling, however, 
startled him into doubt, and the doubt soon passed into 
painful conviction. 

"Why were you so unkind, Patrick?" said the voice of 
Kate. " You know it kills me to sing that ballad. I can 
not bear it." 

" Why should you mind singing an old song your nurse 
taught you ? " 

" My nurse learned it from my mother. Oh Patrick! 
what would my mother say if she knew I met you this way ? 
You shouldn't ask me. You know I can refuse you nothing ; 
and you should be generous." 

Alec could not hear his answer, and he knew why. That 
scar on his lip ! Kate's lips there ! 

Of course Alec ought not to have listened. But the fact 
was, that, for the time, all consciousness of free will and 
capability of action had vanished from his mind. His soul 
was but a black gulf into which poured the Phlegethontic 
cataract of their conversation. 

** Ah, yes, Patrick ! Kisses are easy. But you hurt me 
terribly sometimes. And I know why. You hate my 
cousin, poor boy ! — and you want me to hate him too. I 
wonder if you love me as much as he does ! — or did ; for 
surely I have been unkind enough to cure him of loving me. 
Surely you are not jealous of him ? " 

" Jealous of him! — I should think not ! " 

Human expression could have thrown no more scorn into 
the word. 

" But you hate him." 

" I don't hate him. He's not worth hating — the awkward 
steer ! — although I confess I have cause to dislike him, and 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 339 

have some gratification in mortifying him. But he's not a 
pleasant subject to me." 

*' His mother has been very kind to me. I wish you 
would make it up with him for my sake, Patrick. He may 
be uncouth and awkward — I don't know — but that's no 
reason for hating him, I love you so that I could love any 
body that loved you. You don't know how I love you, 
Patrick — though you are unkind sometimes. The world 
used to look so cold, and narrow, and gray ; but now there 
is a flush like sunset over every thing, and I am happy ! 
Patrick, don't make me do things before my cousin that will 
hurt him." 

Alec knew that she pressed closer to Beauchamp, and 
offered him her face. 

" Listen, my Kate," said Beauchamp. " I know there 
are things you can not bear to hear ; but you must hear 
this." 

" No, no, not now ! " answered Kate, shuddering. 

Alec knew how she looked — saw her with the eyes of his 
memory as she looked once or twice — and listened uncon- 
scious of any existence but that of hearing. 

*' You must, Kate, and you shall," said Beauchamp. " You 
asked me only yesterday how I came by that scar on my 
lip. I will tell you. I rebuked that cousin of yours for 
unmanly behavior in the dissecting-room, the very first time 
he entered it. He made no reply ; but when we came out, 
he struck me." 

The icy mood passed away, and such a glow of red anger 
rushed through Alec's veins, that he felt as if the hot blast 
from molten metal were playing upon his face. That Kate 
should marry such a man ! The same moment he stood in 
the light of the lantern, with one word on his lips : 

'* Liar ! " 

Beauchamp's hand sprang to the hilt of his dirk. Alec 
laughed with bitter contempt. 

" Pooh ! " he said ; " even you will not say I am a coward. 
Do if you dare ! " 

After her first startling cry, Kate had stood staring and 
trembling. Beauchamp's presence of mind returned. He 
thrust his half-drawn dirk into its sheath, and with a curl of 
the scarred lip, said coldly — 

" Eaves-dropping." 

" Lying," retorted Alec. 

*' Well, I must say," retorted Beauchamp, assuming his 



34° ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

most polished tone, *' that this kind of conversation is at 
least unusual in the presence of a lady." 

Without making him any reply, Alec turned to Kate. 

" Kate," he said, " I swear to you that I struck him only 
after fair warning, after insult to myself, and insult to the 
dead. He did not know that I was able to give him the 
chastisement he deserved." 

I doubt if Kate heard any of this speech. She had been 
leaning against a book-case, and from it she now slipped 
sidewise to the floor. 

"You brute ! " answered Beauchamp. "You will answer 
to me for this." 

" When you please," returned Alec. " Meantime you will 
leave this room, or I will make you." 

*' Go to the devil ! " said Beauchamp, again laying his hand 
on his dirk. 

" You can claim fair play no more than a wolf," said 
Alec, keeping his eye on his enemy's hand. " You had 
better go. I have only to ring this bell and the sacrist will 
be here." 

" That is your regard for your cousin ! You would expose 
her to the servants ! " 

" I will expose her to any thing rather than to you. I 
have held my tongue too long." 

" And you will leave her lying here ?" 

" Vou will leave her lying here." 

"That is your revenge, is it ? " 

" I want no revenge, even on you, Beauchamp. Go." 

" I will neither forestall nor forget mine," said Beauchamp, 
as he turned and went out into the quadrangle. 

When Alec came to think about it, he could not under- 
stand the ease of his victory. He did not know what a 
power their first encounter had given him over the inferior 
nature of Beauchamp, in whom the animal, unsupported by 
the moral, was cowed before the animal in Forbes, backed 
by the sense of right. 

And above all things, Beauchamp hated to find himself 
in an awkward position, which certainly would have been 
his case if Alec had rung for the sacrist. Nor was he capa- 
ble of acting well on the spur of any moment. He must 
have plans : those he would carry out remorselessly. — So he 
went away to excogitate further revenge. But he was in 
love with Kate just enough to be uneasy as to the result of 
Alec's interview with her. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 341 

Returning to Kate, Alec found her moaning. He sup- 
ported her head as she had done for him in that old harvest 
field, and chafed her chilly hands. Before her senses had 
quite returned, she began to talk, and, after several inarticu- 
late attempts, her murmured words became plain. 

" Never mind, dear," she said ; " the boy is wild. He 
doesn't know what he says. Oh, Patrick, my heart is ach- 
ing with love to you. It is good love, I know ; and you 
must be kind to me, and not make me do what I don't like 
to do. And you must forgive my poor cousin, for he did 
not mean to tell lies. He fancies you bad, because I love 
you so much more than him. But you know I can't help 
it, and I dare say he can't either." 

Alec felt as if a green flame were consuming his brain. 
And the blood surged so into his head and eyes, that 
he saw flashes of fire between him and Kate. He could 
not remain in such a false position, with Kate taking him 
for her lover. But what an awful shock it would be to her 
when she discovered the truth ! How was it to be avoided ! 
He must get her home before she recovered quite. For 
this there was but one chance, and that lay in a bold venture. 
Mr. Fraser's door was just across a corner of the quad- 
rangle. He would carry her to her own room. The guests 
must be gone, and it was a small household, so that the chance 
of effecting it undiscovered was a good one. He did effect 
it ; in three minutes more he had laid her upon her own bed, 
had rung her bell, and had sped out of the house as fast and 
as quietly as he could. 

His gratification at having succeeded in escaping Kate's 
recognition, bore him up for a little, but before he reached 
home his heart felt like a burned-out volcano. 

Meantime Mr. Cupples had been fretting over his absence, 
for he had come to depend very much upon Alec. At last 
he had rung the bell, knowing that Mrs. Leslie was out, 
and that it would be answered by a dirty girl in nailed shoes 
turned down at the heel : she would be open to a bribe. 
Nor did she need much persuasion besides. Off she ran 
with his empty bottle, to get it filled at the grocer's over 
the way. 

When Alec came home, he found his friend fast asleep in 
bed, the room smelling strongly of toddy, and the bottle 
standing on the table beside the empty tumbler. Faint in 
body, mind and spirit, as if from the sudden temptation of an 
unholy power, he caught up the bottle. The elixir mortis 



342 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

flowed gurgling from the narrow neck into the tumbler 
which Mr. Cupples had lately emptied. Heedless and reck- 
less, he nearly filled it, and was just lifting it to his lips, 
when a cry half-molded into a curse rang from the bed, 
and the same instant the tumbler was struck from his hand. 
It flew in fragments against the grate, and the spirit rushed 
in a roaring flame of demoniacal wrath up the chimney. 

" Damn you ! " half-shrieked, half-panted Mr. Cupples in 
his night-shirt, at Alec's elbow, still under the influence of 
the same spirit he had banned on its way to Alec Forbes's 
empty house — "damn you, bantam ! ye've broken my father's 
tumbler. De'il tak' ye for a vaigabon' ! I've a guid min' 
to thraw the neck o' ye ! " 

Seeing that Mr. Cupples was only two-thirds of Alec's 
height, and only one-half of his thickness, the threat, as he 
then stood, was rather ludicrous. Miserable as he was. Alec 
could not help laughing. 

** Ye may lauch, bantam ! but I want no companion in 
hell to cast his damnation in my teeth. Gin ye touch that 
bottle again, faith, I'll brain ye, and sen' ye into the ither 
warl' withoot that handle at least for Sawtan to catch a 
grip o' ye by. And there may be a handle somewhaur o* 
the richt side o' ye for some saft-hertit angel to lay han' upo' 
and gie ye a lift whaur ye ill deserve to gang, ye thrawn 
buckie ! Efter a' that I hae said to ye ! — Damn ye ! " 

Alec burst into a loud roar of laughter. For there was 
the little man standing in his shirt, shaking a trembling fist 
at him, stammering with eagerness, and half-choked with 
excitement. 

" Gang to yer bed, Mr. Cupples, or ye'll tak' yer deith o' 
cauld. Luik here." 

And Alec seized the bottle once more. Mr. Cupples flew 
at him, and would have knocked the bottle after the glass, 
had not Alec held it high above his reach, exclaiming, 

" Toots, man ! I'mgaein' to pit it intil its ain neuk. Gang 
ye to yer bed, and lippen to me." 

" Ye gie me yer word, ye winna pit it to yer mou' ? " 

" I do," answered Alec. 

The same moment Mr. Cupples was floundering on the 
bed in a perplexed attempt to get under the bed-clothes. 
A violent fit of coughing was the consequence of the exer- 
tion. 

" Ye're like to toom yer ain kist afore ye brain my pan, 
Mr. Cupples," said Alec. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 343 

" Haud yer tongue, and lat me host {cough) in peace," 
panted Mr. Cupples. 

When the fit was over, he lay still, and stared at Alec. 
Alec had sat down in Mr. Cupples's easy chair, and was 
staring at the fire. 

" I see," muttered Mr. Cupples. " This'U do no longer. 
The laddie's gaein' to the dogs for want o' bein' luikit efter. 
I maun be up the morn. It's thae wimmen ! thae wim- 
min ! Puir things ! they canna aye help it ; but de'il talc' 
them for bonnie oolets ! mony's the fine laddie they drive 
into the cluiks o' auld Horney. Michtna some gran' dis- 
covery be made in Pheesiology, to enable the warl' to gang 
on wantin' them ? But, Lord preserve me ! I wad hae 
naething left worth greetin' aboot !" 

He hid his face in the bed-clothes. 

Alec hearing part of this muttered discourse, had grown 
attentive, but there was nothing more forthcoming. He sat 
for a little, staring helplessly into the fire. The world was 
very blank and dismal. 

Then he rose to go to bed ; for Mr. Cupples did not re- 
quire him now. Finding him fast asleep under the bed- 
clothes, he made him as comfortable as he could. Then he 
locked the closet where the whisky was, and took the key 
with him. 

Their mutual care in this respect was comical. 



CHAPTER LXX. 



The next morning Alec saw Mr. Cupples in bed before 
he left. His surprise therefore was great when, entering 
the library after morning lectures, he found him seated in 
his usual place, hard at work on his catalogue. Except that 
he was yet thinner and paler than before, the only difference 
in his appearance was that his eyes were brighter and his 
complexion was clearer. 

" You here, Mr. Cupples ! " he exclaimed. 

" What garred ye lock the press last nicht, ye deevil ? " re- 
turned the librarian, paying no attention to Alec's expression 
of surprise. *' But I say, bantam," he continued, not wait- 
ing for a reply, which indeed was unnecessary, " ye hae 



344 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

dune yer wark weel — verra near as weel's I cud hae dune't 
mysel'." 

" I'm sure, Mr. Cupples, it was the least thing I could 
do." 

" Ye impident cock ! It was the verra best you cud do, 
or ye wadna hae come within sicht o' me. I mayna be 
muckle at thrashin' attoarneys, or cuttin' up deid corpuses, 
but I defy ye to come up to me at ony thing conneckit wi' 
bulks." 

" Faith ! Mr. Cupples, ye may gang farther nor that. Efter 
what ye hae dune for me, gin I war a general, ye sud lead 
the Forlorn Hope." 

" Ay, ay. It's a forlorn hope, a' 'at I'm fit for, Alec 
Forbes," returned Cupples, sadly. 

This struck Alec so near his own grief that he could not 
reply with even seeming cheerfulness. He said nothing. 
Mr. Cupples resumed. 

" I hae twa three words to say to you. Alec Forbes. Can 
ye believe in a man as weel's ye can in a wumman ? " 

" I can believe in you, Mr. Cupples. That I'll sweir 
till." 

"Weel, jist sit doon there, and carry on frae whaurye loot 
sit. Syne efter the three o'clock lecture — wha is't ye're at- 
ten'in' this session ? — we'll gang doon to Luckie Cumstie's, 
and hae a moufu' o' denner — she'll do her best for me — an' 
I'll hae jist a tumler o' toddy — but de'il a drap sail ye hae, 
bantam — and de'il a word will I say to ye there. But we'll 
come back here, and i' the gloamin', I'll gie ye a bit episode 
i' my life. — Episode did I ca' 'it ? Faith it's my life itsel', 
and no worth muckle eyther. Ye'll be the first man that 
ever I tell't it till. And ye may judge o' my regaird for ye 
frae that fac'." 

Alec worked away at his catalogue, and then attended 
the afternoon lecture. The dinner at Luckie Cumstie's 
followed — of the plainest, but good. Alec's trouble had not 
yet affected the region in which Paley seats the organ of 
happiness. And while an appetite exists, a dinner will be 
interesting. Just as the gloaming was fading into night, they 
went back to the library. 

" Will I rin ower to the sacrist's for a licht ? " asked Alec. 

" Na, na ; lat be. The mirk's mercifu', whiles." 

" I canna understan' ye, Mr. Cupples. Sin ever I kent 
ye i' this library, I never kent ye bide the oncome o' the 
nicht. As sune's the gloamin' begin to fa', ye aye flew to 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 345 

yer hat, and cot at the door as gin there had been a ghaist 
gettin' its banes thegither oot o' the dark to come at ye." 

" Maybe sae there was, bantam. Sae nane o' your 
jokin'." 

" I didna mean to anger ye, Mr. Cupples." 

" Whaur naething's meant, naething's dune. I'm nae an- 
gert. And that ye'll sune see. Sit ye doon there, and tak' 
yer plaid aboot ye, or ye'll be cauld." 

" Ye hae nae plaid yersel'. Ye're mair like to be cauld 
nor I am." 

" I weir my plaid o' my inside. Ye haena had ony toddy. 
Deil's broo ! it may weel haud a body warm. It comes frae 
a het quarter." 

The open oak ceiling overhead was getting very dark by 
this time ; and the room, divided and crowded with books 
in all directions, left little free course to the light that strug- 
gled through the dusty windows. The friends seated them 
selves on the lower steps of an open circular oak staircase 
which wound up to a gallery running around the walls. 

" Efter I had taen my degree," began Mr. Cupples, " frae 
the han' o' this same couthy auld mither, I heard o' a grit 
leebrary i' the north — I winna say whaur — that wantit the 
han' o' a man that kenned what he was aboot, to pit in da- 
cent order, sae that a body cud lay his ban's upon a buik 
whan he wantit it, and no be i' the condition o' Tantalus, 
wi' water at the mou' but nane for the hause {throat). Din 
imaigin' it was a public library. Na, na. It belonged to a 
grit an' gran' hoose — the Lord hae respec' till't, for it's no 
joke o' a hoose that — as I weel kent afore a' was ower ! 
Weel, I wrought awa', likin' the wark weel, for a bulk's the 
bonniest thing i' the warl' but ane, and there's no dirl {thrill) 
in't whan ye lay ban's upo' 't, as there is, guid kens, in the 
ither. Man, ye had better lay ban's upon a torpedo, or a 
galvanic battery, nor upo' a woman — I mean a woman that 
ye hae ony attraction till — for she'll gar ye dirl till ye dinna 
ken yer thoomb frae yer muckle tae. But I was speiken' 
aboot bulks an' noo aboot women, only somehoo whatever a 
man begins wi', he'll aye en' aff wi' the same thing. The 
Lord hae a care o' them, for they'r awfu' craturs ! They're 
no like ither fowk a'thegither. Weel, ye see, I had a room 
till mysel', forby the library an' my bed-room — an a gran' 
place that was ! I didna see ony thing o' the family, for I 
had my denner and my wine and a' thing human stammack 
cud desire served up till me i' my ain room. But ae day 



346 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

my denner was made up o' ae mess efter anither, verra fine 
nae doot, but unco queer and outlandish, and I had nae ap- 
peteet, and I cudna eat it. Sae I rase, afore my ordinar' 
time, and gaed back to my wark. I had taen twa or three 
glasses o' a dooms fine tipple they ca' Madeira, an' a mou- 
fu' o' cheese — that was a'. Weel, I sat doon to my cata- 
logue there, as it micht be here ; but I hadna sat copyin' 
the teetles o' the bulks laid out upo' the muckle table afore 
me, for mair nor twa minutes, whan I heard a kin' o' a 
reestlin', an' I thocht it was mice, to whilk I'm a deidly en- 
emy ever sin' they ate half o' a first edition o' the Fairy 
Queen, conteenin' only the first three bulks, ye ken, o' whilk 
they consumed an' nae doot assimilated ae haillbuik and full 
a half o' anither. But whan I luikit up, what sud I see but 
a wee leddy, in a goon the color o' a clood that's takin' 
nae pairt i' the sunset, but jist lookin' on like, stan'in' afore 
the buik-shelves i' the further en' o' the room. Noo I'm 
terrible lang-sichtit, and I had pitten the bulks i' that pairt 
a' richt already wi' my ain' han' — and I saw her put her han' 
upon a bulk that was no fit for her. I winna say what it 
was. Some hermaphrodeet cratur had written't that had 
no respec' for man or woman, an' whase neck sud hae 
been thrawn by the midwife, for that bulk cam' o' sparin' 
o' 'm. 

" ' Dinna touch that bulk, my bonny leddy,' I cried. ' It's 
awfu' fu' o' dist and stoor. It'll smore ye to open the twa 
brods o' 't. Yer rosy goon'll be clean blaudit wi' the stew 
(dust) o' 't.' 

" She startit and luikit roon some frichtit like, and I rase 
an' gaed across the flure till her. And her face grew bon- 
nier as I cam' nearer till her. Her nose an' her twa eebrees 
jist min'd ye upo' the picturs o' the Holy Ghost comin' doon 
like a doo ; and oot aneath ilka wing there luikit a hert o' 
licht — that was her twa een, that gaed throu and throu me 
as gin I had been a warp and they twa shuttles ; and faith ! 
they made o' my life and o' me what it is and I am. They 
wove the wab o' me. 

" Ay. They gaed oot and in, and throu and throu, and 
back and fore, and roon and aboot, till there wasna a nerve 
or a fiber o' my bein', but they had twisted it up jist as a 
spither does a flee afore he sooks the life oot o' 't. But 
that's a prolepsis." 

" ' Are you the librarian ? ' said she, saft and sma', like 
hersel'. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 347 

" ' That I am, mem,' said I. ' My name's Cupples— at 
your service, mem.' 

" ' I was looking, Mr. Cupples,' said she, ' for some book 
to help me to learn Gaelic. I want very much to read 
Gaelic' 

"'Weel, mem,' said I, 'gin it had been ony o' the 
Romance languages, or ony ane o' the Teutonic breed, I 
micht hae gien ye a lift. But I doot ye maun bide till ye 
gang to Edinburgh, or Aberdeen, whaur ye'U easy fa' in wi' 
some lang-leggit bejan that'll be prood to instruc' ye, and 
coont himsel' ower weel paid wi' the sicht o' yer bonny face.' 

" She turned some reid at that, and I was feared that I 
had angert her. But she gied a sma' lauch, and oot at the 
door she gaed, wi' her * rosy fleece o' fire ' lowin' and glimr 
merin' aboot her, jist like ane o' the seraphims that auld 
Crashaw sings aboot. Only she was gey sma' for a seraph, 
though they're nae ower big. Weel, ye see, that was the 
first time I saw her. And I thochtna ower muckle mair 
aboot her. But in a day or twa there she was again. And 
she had a hantle to speir at me aboot ; and it took a' the 
knowledge I had o' bulks in general to answer her questions. 
In fact I was whiles compelled to confess my ignorance, 
which is no pleesant whan a man wants to stan' weel wi' a 
bonny crater that spiers questions. Whan she gaed, I gaed 
efter her, followin' aboot at her — i' my thochts, I mean — 
like a hen efter her ae chucken. She was bonnier this time 
than the last. She had tired o' the rosy clood, and she 
had on a bonny goon o' black silk, sae modest and sae rich, 
wi' diamond buttons up the front o' the briest o' 't. Weel, 
to mak' a lang story short, and the shorter the better, for it's 
nae a pleesant ane to me, she cam' aftener and aftener. And 
she had sae muckle to say and speir aboot, that at last we 
had to tak' doon bulks, and I had to clear a neuk o' the 
table. At lenth I cam' to luik for her as reg'lar as gin she 
had been a ghaist, and the time that chappit upo' the auld 
clock had belongt to the midnicht instead o' the mornin'. 
Ye'll be wonnerin' what like she was. As I tell't ye, she 
was a wee body, wi' muckle black een, that lay quaiet in her 
face and never cam' oot till they war wantit, an' a body gimp 
and sma', but roon' and weel proportioned throughoot. 
Her hand and her fit war jist past expression bonny. And 
she had a' her features conformin' — a' sma' but nane o' 
them ower sma' in relation to ane anither. And she had a 
licht way wi' her, that was jist dazin'. She seemed to 



348 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

touch ilka thing wi' the verra tips o' her fingers, and syne 
ken a' thing aboot it, as gin she had a universal insicht ; or 
raither, I wad say, her natur', notvvithstandin' its variety, was 
sae homogeneous, that whan ae nerve o' her spiritual being 
cam' in contack wi' ony thing, the haill sowl o' her cam' 
in contack wi' 't at the same time and thereby ; and 
ilka pairt read the report efter its ain fashion, translatin' 't 
accordin' to 'ts ain experience : as the different provinces 
and languages o' the Chinese Empire read the universal 
written tongue. A heap o' pains I took that I micht never 
hae to say I dinna ken to sic a gleg-ee'd cratur as that. And 
ilka day she cam' to read wi' me, and we jist got on like a 
mail-coach — at least I did — only the wrang road. An' she 
cam' aye i' the efternoon and bade till the gloamin' cam 
doon an' it grew ower mirk to ken the words frae ana 
anither. And syne she wad gang and dress hersel' for 
denner, as she said. 

*' Ye may say I was a muckie gowk. And ye may lauch 
at a bairn for greitin' efter the mune ; but I doot that same 
avarice o' the wee man comes frae a something in him that 
he wad be ill aff wi'oot. Better greit for the mune than no 
be cawpable o' greitin' for the mune. And weel I wat, I 
grat for the mune, or a' was dune, and didna get it, ony 
mair than the lave o' my greedy wee brithers." 

The night had gathered thick about them. And for a 
few moments out of the darkness came no sound. At 
length Mr. Cupples resumed : 

" I maun jist confess, cauf that I was — and yet I wad hae 
been a greater cauf gin it hadna been sae — I cud hae lickit 
the verra dist aff o' the flure whaur her fit had been. Man., 
I never saw ony thing like her. The hypostasis o' her was 
jist perfection itsel'. Weel, ae nicht — for I wrocht full late, 
my een war suddenly dazed wi' the glimmer o' something 
white. I thocht the first minute that I had seen a ghost, 
and the neist that I was a ghost mysel'. For there she was 
in a fluffy cloud o' whiteness, wi' her bonny bare shouthers 
and airms, and jist ae white rose in her black hair, and deil 
a diamond or ruby aboot her ! 

" ' It's so hot,' said she, ' in the drawing-room ! And 
they're talking such nonsense there ! There's nobody 
speaks sense to me but you, Mr. Cupples.' 

'" 'Deed, mem,' says I, ' I dinna ken whaur it's to come 
frae the nicht. For I hae nae sense left but ane, and that's 
nearhan' ' wi' excess o' brightness blind.' Auld Spenser 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 349 

says something like that, doesna he, mem ? ' I added, seein' 
that she luikit some grave. But what she micht hae said or 
dune, I dinna ken ; for I sweir to ye, bantam, I know noth- 
ing that happent efter, till I cam' to mysel' at the soun' o' a 
lauch frae outside the door. I kenned it weel eneuch, 
though it was a licht flutterin' lauch. Maybe I heard it the 
better frae the conductin' pooer o' timmer, for my broo was 
doon o' the buirds o' the flure. I sprang to my feet, but 
the place reeled roon', and I fell. It was the lauch that 
killed me. What for sud she lauch ? — And sic a ane as her 
that was no licht-heidit lassie, but cud read and unnerstan', 
wi the best ? I suppose I had gane upo' my knees till her, 
and syne like the lave o' the celestials she tuik to her 
feathers and flew. But I ken nae mair than this : that for 
endless ages I gaed followin' her through the heavenly halls, 
aye kennin as sure's gospel that she was ahint the neist door, 
and aye openin' that door upon an empty glory, to be 
equally certain that she was ahint the neist. And sae on I 
gaed till, ahint ane o' the thoosan' doors, I saw the reek- 
enameled couples o' my auld mither's bit hoosie upo' the 
mairgin o' the bog, and she was hingin' ower me, sayin' her 
prayers as gin she wad gang efter them like a balloon wi* 
verra fervor. And whan she saw my een open, she drappit 
upo' her knees and gaed on prayin'. And I wonner that 
thae prayers warna hearkent till, I never cud unnerstan' 
that." 

" Hoo ken ye that they warna hearkent till ? " asked 
Alec. 

" Luik at me ! Do ye ca' that hearkenin' till a prayer ? 
Luik what she got me back for. Ca' ye that an answer to 
prayers like my auld mither's ? Faith ! I'll be forced to 
repent some day for her sake, though there sudna be anither 
woman atween Venus and Mars but wad rive wi' lauchin' at 
a word fra Cosmo Cupples. But, man ! 1 wad hae repentit 
lang syne gin I cud hae gotten ae glimp o' a possible justice 
in pittin' a hert as grit's mine into sic a misgreein', scrimpit, 
contemptible body as this. The verra sowl o' me has to 
draw up the legs o' 't to haud them inside this coffin o' a 
corpus, and haud them ohn shot oot into the everlastin' 
cauld. Man, the first thing I did, whan I cam' to mysel', 
was to justify her afore God for lauchin' at me. Hoo could 
ony body help lauchin' at me ? It wasnaher wyte. And eh! 
man, ye dinna ken hoo quaiet and comfortable I was in my 
ain min', as sune's I had gotten her justified to mysel' and 



35° ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

had laid it doon that I was ane fit to be lauchen at. — I winna 
lat you lauch at me, though, bantam. I tell ye that." 

" Mr. Cupples ! Laugh at you ! I would rather be a 
door-mat to the devil," exclaimed Alec. 

" Thank you, bantam. — Weel, ye see, ance I had made up 
my min' aboot that, I jist began followin' at her again like a 
hungry tyke that stops the minute ye luik roon efter him — I 
mean i' my thochts, ye ken — jist as 1 had been followin' her, 
a' the time o' my fiver, throu the halls o' heaven, as I 
thoucht them, whan they war only the sma' crinkle-crankle 
convolutions o' my cerebral dome — a puir heaven for a man 
to bide in ! I hae learnt that waur and better than maist 
men, as I'm gaein' to tell ye ; for it was for the sake o' that 
that I begud this dismal story. — Whan I grew some better, 
and wan up — wad ye believe 't ? — the kin'ness o' the auld, 
warpit, broon, wrinklet woman that brocht me furth, me, 
Cosmo Cupples, wi' the muckle hert and the sma' body, 
began to console me a wee for the lauch o' that queen o' 
white-skinned leddies. It was but a wee, ye ken ; still it 
was consolation. My mither thocht a heap o' me. Fowk 
thinks mair o' fowk, the mair they are themsel's. But I wat 
it was sma' honor I brocht her hame, wi' my een brunt oot 
wi' greetin' for the mune. — I'll tell ye the lave o' 't efter we 
win hame. I canna bide to be here i' the dark. It's the 
quaiet beuks a' roon' me that I canna bide. It was i' the 
mids' o' beuks, i' the dark, that I heard that lauch. It jist 
blastit me and the beuks and a' thing. They aye luik as gin 
they war hearin' 't. For the first time I loot the gloamin' 
come doon upo' me i' this same leebrary, a' at ance I heard 
the sma' nicher o' a woman's lauch fra somewhaur in or oot 
o' the warl'. I grew as het's hell, and was oot at the door 
in a cat-loup. And as sure's death I'll hear't again, gin I 
bide ae minute langer. Come oot wi' ye." 

There was light in Mr. Fraser's drawing-room, and 
a shadow flitted across the blind. The frosty night, and the 
keenness of the stars, made Mr. Cupples shiver. Alec was in 
a feverous glow. When they reached home, Mr. Cupples 
went straight to the cupboard, swallowed a glass of the 
inerum, put coals on the fire, drew his chair close to it, and 
said : 

" It's dooms cauld ! Sit doon there, bantam. Pit on the 
kettle first. It's an ac' o' the purest disinteresstitness, for 
deil a drap sail ye drink ! But I'll sing ye a sang, by way 
o' upniak'.' 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 35I 

" I never heard ye sing, Mr. Cupples. Ye can do a' thing, 
I think." 

" I cudna gar a bonnie, high-born, white-handit leddy fa' 
in love wi' a puir futteret {weasel) o a crater — a shargar 
{scrag) like Cosmo Cupples, bantam. But I can do twa or 
three things ; an' ane o' them is, I can mak' a sang ; and 
anither is, I can mak' a tune till't ; and a third is, I can 
sing the tane to the tither, that is, whan I haena had either 
ower muckle or ower little o' the tappit-hen. Noo, heark ye. 
This ane's a' my ain, 

GAEIN' AND COMIN'. ' 

Whan Andrew frae Strathbogie gaed. 

The lift was lowerin' dreary ; 
The sun he wadna lift his heid ; 

The win' blew laich and eerie. 
In's pouch he had a plack or twa, 

I vow he hadna mony ; 
Yet Andrew lilce a lintie sang, 

For Lizzie was sae bonny ! 

O Lizzie, Lizzie, bonnie lassie J 

Bonnie, saucy hizzie ! 

What richt had ye to luik at me, 

And drive me daft and dizzy ? 

Whan Andrew to Strathbogie cam', 

The sun was shinin' rarely ; 
He rade a horse that pranced and sprang— 

I vow he sat him fairly. 
And he had gowd to spend and spare. 

And a heart as true as ony ; 
But's luik was doon, and his sigh was sair, 

For Lizzie was sae bonny ! 

O Lizzie, Lizzie, bonny hizzie ! 

Ye've turned the daylicht dreary. 

Ye're straucht and rare, ye're fause and fair — 

Hech ! auld John Armstrong's dearie ! " 

His voice was mellow, and ought to have been even. 
His expression was perfect. 

The kettle was boiling. Mr. Cupples made his toddy, 
and resumed his story. 

" As sune's I was able, I left my mither greitin' — God 
bless her ! — and cam' to this toon, for I wasna gaein' to be 
eaten up with idleset as weel's wi' idolatry. The first thing 



352 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

I tuik till was teachin*. Noo that's a braw thing, whan the 
laddies and lassies want to learn, and hae questions o' their 
ain to speir. But whan they dinna care, it's the verra 
deevil. Or lang, a'thing grew gray. I cared for naething 
and naebody. My verra dreams gaed frae me, or cam' only 
to torment me, wi' the reid hert o' them changed to yallow 
and gray. 

" Weel, ae nicht I had come hame worn oot wi' warstlin' 
to gar bairns eat that had no hunger. I spied upo' the 
table a bottle o' whusky. A frien' o' mine — a grocer he 
was — had sent it across the street to me, for it was hard 
upo' Hogmanay. I rang the bell incontinent. Up comes 
the lass, and says I, ' Bell, lat's hae a kettlefu' o' het water.* 
And to mak' a lang story short, I could never want het 
water sin syne. For I hadna drunken aboon a twa glaiss, 
afore the past began to revive as gin ye had come ower't 
wi' a weet sponge. A' the colors cam' oot upo' 't again, as 
gin they had never turned wan and gray ; and I said to 
mysel' wi' pride : ' My leddy canna, wi' a' her breedin' and 
her bonnie skin, baud Cosmo Cupplesfrae lo'ein' her.' And 
I followed aboot at her again throu a' the oots and ins o' 
the story, and the past was restored to me. — That's hoo it 
appeared to me that nicht. — Was't ony wonner that the first 
thing I did whan I cam' hame the neist nicht was to ring for 
the het water ? I wantit naething frae Providence or Natur' 
but jist that the color michtna be a' ta'en oot o' my life. 
The muckle deevil was in't, that I cudna stan' up to my 
fate like a man, and, gin my life was to cast the color, jist 
tak' my auld cloak aboot me, and gang on content. But I 
cudna. I bude to see things bonnie, or my strength gaed 
frae me. But ye canna slink in at back doors that gait. I 
was pitten oot, and oot I maun bide. It wasna that lang 
afore I began to discover that it was a' a delusion and a 
snare. Whan I fell asleep, I wad dream whiles that, 
openin' the door into ane o' thae halls o' licht, there she 
was stan'in' lauchin' at me. And she micht hae gane on 
lauchin' to a' eternity — for ony thing I cared. And — ten 
times waur — I wad whiles come upon her greitin' and 
repentin', and haudin' oot her han' to me, and me carin' no 
more for her than for the beard o' a barley-stalk. And for 
makin' a sang — I jist steikit my lugs {stopped my ears) whan 
I heard a puir misguidet canary singin' i' the sunshine. And 
I begud to hear a laich lauch far awa', and it cam' nearer 
and nearer ilka week, till it was ringin' i' my verra lug. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 353 

But a' that was naething compairateevely. I' the midst o' 
a quaiet contemplation, suddenly, wi' an awfu' stoon, a 
ghaistly doobt pat it's heid up i' my breist, and cried : ' It's 
a' fause. The gray luik o' life's the true ane, and the only 
aspec' ye hae a richt to see.' And efter that, a' the whusky 
in Glenlivat cudna console me. — Luik at me noo. Ye see 
what I am. I can whiles sing an auld sang — but mak' 
a new ane ! — Lord, man ! I can hardly believe 'at ever I 
made a sang i' my life. Luik at my han' hoo it trimles. 
Luik at my hert. It's brunt oot. There's no a leevin' 
crater but yersel' that I hae ony regard for, sin my auld 
mither deid. Gin it warna for buiks, I wad amaist cut my 
throat. And the senawtus disna think me bye and aboon 
half a proper companion for buiks even ; as gin Cupples 
micht corrup' Milton himsel', although he was ten feet ower 
his heid bottled in a buik. And whan I saw ye poor oot the 
whusky in that mad-like manner, as gin 't had been some 
sma' tipple o' penny ale, it jist drave me mad wi' anger." 

" Weel, Mr. Cupples," Alec ventured to say, " what for 
dinna ye sen' the bottle to the deevil ? " 

*' What, my ain auld tappit-hen ! " exclaimed Mr. Cupples, 
with a sudden reaction from the seriousness of his late 
mood. " Na, na, she shanua gang to the deil till we gang 
thegither. Eh ! but we'll baith hae dry insides or we win 
frae him again, I doobt. That drouth's an awfu' thing to 
contemplate. But speyk o' giein' ower the drink ! The 
verra attemp' — an' dinna ye think that I haena made it — 
aich. What for sud I gang to hell afore my time ? The 
deils themselves complain o' that. Na, na. Ance ye hae 
learned to drink, ye canna do wantin' 't. Man, dinna touch 't. 
For God's sake, for yer mither's sake, for 077y sake, 
dinna lat a drap o' the hell-broth gang ower yer thrapple — 
or ye're damned like me forever and ever. It's as guid's 
signin' awa' yer sowl wi' yer ain han' and yer ain blude." 

Mr. Cupples lifted his glass, emptied it, and, setting it 
down on the table with a gesture of hatred, proceeded to 
fill it yet again. 



CHAPTER LXXI. 

" I SAY, Forbes, you keep yourself all to yourself and 
old Cupples, away there in the new town. Come and take 
some supper with me to-night. It's my birthday, old boy." 

" I don't do much in that way, you know, Gibby." 

" Oh yes, I know. You're never jolly but amongst the 
shell-fish. At least that's what the Venall thinks of you. 
But for once in a way you might come." 

" Well, I don't mind," said Alec, really not caring what 
came to him or of him, and glad of any thing to occupy 
him with no-thinking. " When shall I come ? " 

" At seven. We'll have a night of it. To-morrow's 
Saturday." 

It was hardly worth while to go home. He would not 
dine to-day. He would go and renew his grief by the 
ever-grieving sea. For his was a young love, and his sor- 
row was interesting to him : he embalmed his pangs in the 
amber of his consciousness. So he crossed the links to the 
desolate sandy shore ; there let the sound of the waves 
enter the portals of his brain and fill all its hollow caves 
with their moaning ; and then wandering back to the old 
city, stood at length over the keystone of the bridge, and 
looked down into the dark water below the Gothic arch. 

He heard a footstep behind him on the bridge. Looking 
round he saw Beauchamp. Without reason or object, he 
walked up to him and barred his way, Beauchamp started, 
and drew back. 

" Beauchamp," said Alec, "you are my devil." 

" Granted," said Beauchamp, coolly, but on his guard. 

" What are you about with my cousin ? " 

" What is that to you ? " 

" She is my cousin." 

" I don't care. She's not mine." 

" If you play her false, as you have played me — by 
heavens ! — " 

" Oh ! I'll be very kind to her. You needn't be afraid. 
I only wanted to take down your damned impudence. You 
may go to her when you like." 

Alec's answer was a blow, which Beauchamp was pre- 
pared for and avoided. Alec pursued the attack with a 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 355 

burning desire to give him the punishment he deserved. 
But he turned suddenly sick, and, although he afterwards 
recalled a wrestle, knee to knee, the first thing he was aware 
of was the cold waters of the river closing over him. The 
shock restored him. When he rose to the surface he swam 
down the stream, for the banks were precipitous in the 
neighborhood of the bridge. At length he succeeded in 
landing, and set out for home. He had not gone far, how- 
ever, before he grew very faint, and had to sit down on a 
door-step. Then he discovered that his arm was bleeding, 
and knew that Beauchamp had stabbed him. He contrived 
to tie it up after a fashion, and reached home without much 
more difficulty. Mr. Cupples had not come in. So he 
got his landlady to tie up his arm for him, and then 
changed his clothes. Fortunately the wound, although 
long and deep, ran lengthwise between the shoulder and 
elbow, on the outside of the arm, and so was not of a 
serious character. After he was dressed, feeling quite well, 
he set off to keep his engagement with Gilbert Gordon. 

Now how could such a thing have taken place in the 
third decade of the nineteenth century? — The parapet 
was low and the struggle was fierce. I do not think 
that Beauchamp intended murder, for the consequences 
of murder must be a serious consideration to every 
gentleman. He came of a wild race, with whom a word 
and a steel blow had been linked for ages. And habits 
transmitted become instincts. He was of a cold tem- 
perament, and such a nature, once aroused, is often 
less under control than one used to excitement : a 
saint will sometimes break through the bonds of the very 
virtue which has gained him all his repute. If we combine 
these considerations with the known hatred of Beauchamp, 
the story Alec told Cupples the next day may become in 
itself credible. Whether Beauchamp tried to throw him 
from the bridge may remain doubtful, for when the bodies 
of two men are locked in the wrestle of hate, their own 
souls do not know what they intend. Beauchamp must 
have sped home with the conscience of a murderer ; and 
yet when Alec made his appearance in his class, most prob- 
ably a revival of hatred was his first mental experience. 
But I have had no opportunity of studying the morbid 
anatomy of Beauchamp, and I do not care about him, save 
as he influences the current of this history. When he 
vanishes, I shall be glad to forget him. 



356 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Soon after Alec had left the house, Cupples came home 
with a hurried inquiry whether the landlady had seen any 
thing of him. She told him as much as she knew, where- 
upon he went up stairs to his ^schylus, etc. 

Alec said nothing about his adventure to any of his 
friends, for, like other Scotchmen young and old, he liked 
to keep things in his own hands till he knew what to do with 
them. At first, notwithstanding his loss of blood, he felt 
better than he had felt for some time ; but in the course of 
the evening he grew so tired, and his brain grew so muddy 
and brown, that he was glad when he heard the order given 
for the boiling water. He had before now, although Mr. 
Cupples had never become aware of the fact, partaken of 
the usual source of Scotch exhilaration, and had felt nothing 
the worse ; and now heedless of Mr. Cupples's elaborate 
warning — how could he be expected to mind it ? — he mixed 
himself a tumbler eagerly. But although the earth bright- 
ened up under its influences, and a wider horizon opened 
about him than he had enjoyed for months before, yet half- 
frightened at the power of the beverage over his weakened 
frame, he had conscience enough to refuse a second tumbler, 
and rose early and went home. 

The moment he entered the garret, Mr. Cupples, who had 
already consumed his nightly potion, saw that he had been 
drinking. He looked at him with blue eyes, wide-opened, 
dismay and toddy combining to render them of uncertain 
vision. 

" Eh, bantam ! bantam ! " he said, and sank back in his 
chair ; " ye hae been at it in spite o' me." 

And Mr. Cupples burst into silent tears — no unusual 
phenomenon in men under the combined influences of emo- 
tion and drink. Notwithstanding his own elevated condi- 
tion. Alec was shocked. 

*' Mr. Cupples," he said, " I want to tell you all about it." 

Mr. Cupples took no notice. Alec began his story not- 
withstanding, and as he went on, his friend became 
attentive, inserting here and there an expletive to the 
disadvantage of Beauchamp, whose behavior with regard to 
Kate he now learned for the first time. When Alec had 
finished, Cupples said solemnly : 

" I warned ye against him, Alec. But a waur enemy nor 
Beauchamp has gotten a sickerer hand o' ye, I doobt. Do 
'at he like, Beauchamp's dirk couldna hurt ye sae muckle as 
yer ain han', whan ye liftit the first glass to yer ain mou* 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 357 

the nicht. Ye hae despised a* my warnings. And sorrow 
and shame'll come o' it. And I'll hae to beir a' the wyte o' 
't. Yer mither'll jist hate me like the verra black taed that 
no woman can bide. Gang awa' to yer bed. I canna bide 
the sicht o' ye." 

Alec went to bed, rebuked and distressed. But not hav- 
ing taken enough to hurt him much, he was unfortunately 
able, the next morning, to regard Mr. Cupples's lecture 
from a ludicrous point of view. And what danger was he 
in more than the rest of the fellows, few of whom would 
refuse a tumbler of toddy, and fewer of whom were likely to 
get drunk ? — Had not Alec been unhappy, he would have 
been in less danger than most of them ; but he was 
unhappy. 

And although the whisky had done him no great imme- 
diate injury, yet its reaction, combined with the loss of 
blood, made him restless all that day. So that, when the 
afternoon came, instead of going to Mr. Cupples in the 
library, he joined some of the same set he had been with 
the evening before. And when he came home, instead of 
going up stairs to Mr. Cupples, he went straight to bed. 

The next morning, while he was at breakfast, Mr. Cup- 
ples made his appearance in his room. 

" What cam' o' ye last nicht, bantam ? " he asked, kindly, 
but with evident uneasiness. 

" I cam' hame some tired, and gaed straucht to my bed." 

" But ye warna hame vera ear'." 

" I wasna that late." 

" Ye hae been drinkin' again. I ken by the luik o'. yer 
een." 

Alec had a very even temper. But a headache and a 
sore conscience together were enough to upset it. To be 
out of temper with one's self is to be out of temper with the 
universe. 

" Did my mother commission you to look after me, Mr. 
Cupples?" he asked, and could have dashed his head 
against the wall the next moment. But the look of pitying 
and yet deprecating concern in Mr. Cupples's face fixed him 
so that he could say nothing. 

Mr. Cupples turned and walked slowly away, with only 
the words : 

" Eh ! bantam ! bantam ! The Lord hae pity upo' ye — 
and me too ! " 

He went out at the door bowed like an old man. 



3S8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Preserve's, Mr. Cupples ! What ails ye ? " exclaimed 
his landlady meeting him in the passage. 

" The whusky's disagreed wi' me," he said. " It's verra 
jU-faured o' 't. I'm sure I pay't ilka proper attention." 

Then he went down the stairs, murmuring — 

" Rainbows ! Rainbows ! Naething for me but rainbows ! 
God help the laddie ! " 



CHAPTER LXXII. 



It may appear strange to some of my readers that Alec 
should fall into this pit immediately upon the solemn warn- 
ing of his friend. He had listened to the story alone ; he 
had never felt the warning : he had never felt the danger. 
Had he not himself in his own hands ? He was not fond of 
whisky. He could take it or leave it. And so he took it ; 
and finding that there was some comfort in it, took it again 
and again, seeking the society in which it was the vivifying 
element. Need I depict the fine gradations by which he 
sank — gradations though fine yet so numerous that, in a 
space of time almost too brief for credit, the bleared eye, 
the soiled garments, and the disordered hair, would reveal 
how the night had been spent, and the clear-browed boy 
looked a sullen, troubled, dissatisfied youth ! The vice had 
laid hold of him like a fast-wreathing, many-folded serpent. 
He had never had any conscious religion. His life had 
never looked up to its source. All that was good in him was 
good of itself, not of him. So it was easy to go down, with 
grief staring at him over the edge of the pit. All return to 
the unific rectitude of a manly life must be in the face of a 
scorching past and a dank future — and those he could not 
face. 

And as his life thus ebbed away from him, his feelings 
toward Beauchamp grew more and more bitter, approxi- 
mating in character to those of Beauchamp toward him. 
And he soon became resolved to have his revenge on him, 
though it was long before he could make up his mind as to 
what the revenge should be. 

Beauchamp avoided him constantly. 

And Mr. Cupples was haunting him unseen. The strong- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 359 

minded, wise-headed, weak-willed little poet, wrapped in a 
coat of darkness, dogged the footsteps of a great handsome, 
good-natured, ordinary-gifted wretch, who ^6'///^/ never make 
him any return but affection, and had now withdrawn all 
interchange of common friendship in order that he might go 
the downward road unchecked. Cupples was driven almost 
distracted. He drank harder than ever, but with less satis- 
faction than ever, for he only grew the more miserable. He 
thought of writing to Alec's mother, but, with the indecision 
of a drunkard, he could not make up his mind, and pon- 
dered over every side of the question, till he was lost in a 
maze of incapacity. 

Bad went to worse. Vice grew upon vice. 

There are facts in human life which human artists can not 
touch. The great Artist can weave them into the grand 
whole of his Picture, but to the human eye they look too 
ugly and too painful. Even the man who can do the deeds 
dares not represent them. Mothers have to know such facts 
of their sons, and such facts of women like themselves. 

Alec had fallen amongst a set of men who would not be 
satisfied till he should be as low as they — till there should 
be nothing left in him to remind them that they had once 
been better. The circle in which he began to drink had 
gradually contracted about him. The better sort had fallen 
away, and the worst had remained — chiefly older men than 
he, men who had come near to the enjoyment of vileness for 
its own sake, if that be possible, and who certainly enjoyed 
making others like themselves. Encouraged by their 
laughter and approbation. Alec began to emulate them, and 
would soon have had very little to learn if things had not 
taken a turn. A great hand is sometimes laid even on the 
fly-wheel of life's engine. 



CHAPTER LXXIII. 



Andrew Constable, with his wife and old-fashioned 
child Isie, was seated at tea in the little parlor opening 
from the shop, when he was called out by a customer. He 
remained longer than was likely to be accounted for by the 
transaction of business at that time of the day. And when 
he returned his honest face looked troubled. 



360 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Wha was that ? " asked his wife. 

" Ow ! it was naebody but Jeames Johnstone, wantin' a bit 
o' flannin for's wife's coatie." 

*' And what had he to say 'at keepit ye till yer tay's no fit 
to drink ! " 

" Ow ! my tay'll do weel eneuch. It's nae by ordinar' 
cauld." 

" But what said he ? " 

" Weel ! hm ! hm ! — He said it was fine frosty weather." 

" Ay, nae doobt ! He kent that by the way the shuttle 
flew. Was that a' ? " 

" Na, nae freely. But cogues hae lugs, and bairns hae 
muckle een." 

For Isie sat on her stool staring at her father and mother 
alternately, and watching for the result of her mother's 
attempt at picking the lock of her father's reticence. But 
the moment she heard the word lugs, she knew that she had 
no chance, and her eyes grew less and their pupils grew 
larger. Fearing he had hurt her, Andrew said, 

" Winna ye hae a starnie jam, Isie ? It's grosert-jam." 

" Na, thank ye, daddie. Maybe it wad gie me a sair 
wame," answered the solemn old-faced Scotchwoman of 
seven, 

A child who refuses jam lest it should serve her as the 
little book did the Apostle John, might be considered pru- 
dent enough to be entrusted with a secret. But not a word 
more was said on the subject, till Isie was in bed, and sup- 
posed to be fast asleep, in a little room that opened off the 
parlor. But she was not asleep. And the door was always 
left open, that she might fall asleep in the presence of her 
parents. Their words therefore flowed freely into her ears, 
although the meaning only played on her mind with a dull 
glimmer like that which played on her wall from the fire in 
the room where they sat talking. 

" Ay, woman," began Andrew, " it'll be sair news, this, to 
the lady ower the watter." 

" Ye dinna mean Mistress Forbes, Anerew ? " 

" Deed I mean jist her." 

" Is't her son ? Has he met wi' ony mischeef ? What's 
happent till him ? Is he droont or kilt ? The Lord pre- 
serve's ! She'll dee o' 't." 

" Na, lass. It's a hantle waur nor a' that." 

The woodcuts in Fox's Book of Martyrs, of which three 
folio volumes in black letter lay in the room whence the 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 361 

conversation flowed to Isie's ears, rose in all their hideous- 
ness before the mental vision of the child. In no other way 
than as torture could she conceive of worse than being 
killed. 

" Ye gar me grue," said Mrs. Constable, with a shudder. 

" Ay, woman, ye ken little o' the wickedness o' great 
toons — hoo they lie in wait at ilka corner, wi' their gins and 
their snares and their pits that they howk to catch the 
unwary youth," said Andrew, in something of the pride of 
superior knowledge. 

From this elevation, however, he was presently pulled 
down in a rather ignominious fashion by his more plain- 
spoken though not a whit more honest wife. 

" Anerew, dinna ye mint {aini) at speikin' like a chapter 
o' the Proverbs o' Solomon, the son o' Dawvid. Say 
straught oot 'at thae coorse jawds that hing aboot i' the 
gloamin' hae gotten a grip o' the bonnie lad. Eh ! but he'll 
fair ill ; and the Lord hae mercy upo' him — and nane upo' 
them." 

" Hoot ! hoot ! lass ; dinna speik wi' sic a venom. Ye 
ken wha says Vengeatue is mine ? " 

" Ay, ay, weel eneuch. And I houp He'll tak's ain upo' 
sic brazen hizzies. You men-fowk think ye ken a hantle o' 
things that ye wad hand us ohn kent. But nane kens the 
wiles o' a wumman, least awa them 'at fa's into them, but 
anither wumman." 

*' It's nae savin' lore," said Andrew, a little troubled that 
his wife should assert a familiar acquaintance with such 
things. But she went on. 

" Women's just dreidfu'. Whan ance they gang the ill 
gait, they're neither to baud nor bin'. And to think o' them 
layin' ban's upo' sic a bonnie weel-behaved laddie as that 
Alec Forbes, a ceevil, herty cratur, wi'a kin' word an' a joke 
even for the beggar 'at he gied a bawbee till ! Weel, he'll 
come oot o' their cluiks, maybe no that muckle the waur 
efter a', as mony a man frae King Dawvid doonwith afore 
him." 

" Noo, wumman ! " said Andrew, in a tone of authority 
blended with rising indignation ; " ye're slidin' aff o' yer 
ain stule, and ye'U be upo' the grun' afore ye win on to 
mine. Richt or wrang aboot the women, I budc to ken 
mair aboot the men nor ye do ; and I daur affirm and 
uphaud that never man cam' oot o' the grip o' thae poor 
deluded craters — " 



362 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Mrs, Constable interposed with one single emphatic epi- 
thet, not admittable to the ears of this generation ; but 
Andrew resumed and went on. 

" — poor deluded craturs, without losin' a great pairt o' 
what was left in him o' the eemage o' God efter the fall. 
Woman, he tynes {loses) a heap ! " 

" Hoo sud ye ken ony thing aboot that, Anerew ? " 
returned his wife sharply. 

'* The same way than ye ken sae weel aboot the she side 
o' the question, lass. We may jist enlichten ane anither a 
wee bit aboot some things mayhap." 

Meantime the ears of the little pitcher in bed had been 
growing longer and longer with curious horror. The some- 
thing in itself awfully vague about Alec's fate was wrapped in 
yet deeper clouds of terror and mystery by the discord of 
opinion with regard to it on the part of her father and 
mother, whom she had rarely heard differ. She pictured to 
herself the image of his Maker being scratched off Alec by 
the claws of furies ; and hot pincers tearing nail after nail 
from the hand which had once given her a penny. And 
her astonishment was therefore paralyzing when she heard 
her father say : 

" But ye maun haud a quiet tongue i' yer held, guidwife ; 
for weel as ye like the laddie, ye may blast his character gin 
ye say a word aboot it." 

" I s' warrant it's a' ower Glamerton afore it comes to 
your lugs, Anerew," returned her mother. " They're no 
that gleg efter sic news. But I wad like sair to ken wha 
sent hame the word o' it." 

" I'm thinkin' it's been young Bruce." 
" The Lord be praised for a lee ! " exclaimed Mrs. Con- 
stable. " Haena I tell't ye afore noo, sae that it's no upmak 
to pick the lock o' the occasion, Anerew, that Rob Bruce 
has a spite at that family for takin' sic a heap o' notice o' 
Annie Annerson. And I wadna wonner gin he had set's 
hert upo' marryin' her upo' 's ain Rob, and sae keepin' her 
bit siller i' the faimily. Gin that be sae, he micht weel gie 
Alec Forbes a back-handit cloot (Mow)." 

" Deed ! maybe, gudewife. He's a burnin' and a shinin' 
licht amo' you missionars, though ; and ye maunna say ill o' 
'm, for fear he has ye up afore the kirk." 

" Ay, deed is he ! He's a burnin' shame and a stinkin' 
lamp ; for the grace o' God wasna hauden to the nib o' 'm 
lang eneuch to set him in a low {/lame), but only lang 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 363 

eneuch to gar the ile o' 'm reek fit to scomfish {suffocate) a 
haill Sodom." 

" Hoot, lass ! Ye're ower sair even upo' him. But it's 
verra true that gin the story cam' frae that en' o' the toon, 
there's room for rizzonable doobts. Sae we'll awa to our 
beds, and houp things mayna be sae far gane as the soun' 
o' them. Only I drede there's aye some water whaur the 
stirkie droons." 

It was long before little Isie got to sleep, what with 
attempting to realize the actual condition of Alec Forbes, 
and trying to excogitate the best means for his deliverance. 
Why should not all Glamerton set out in a body with flails 
and pitchforks ? And if she must not meddle for that, see- 
ing her father had said the matter must not be mentioned, 
yet his prohibition could not include Alec's mother, whom it 
would be wicked to keep in ignorance. For what would 
Isie think if she was taken prisoner by a cruel woman and 
they would not tell her mother ? So she fell asleep, to wake 
in the morning with the sense of a mission upon her import- 
ant little mind. 

What rendered it probable that the rumor came from 
" that end of the town " was, that Bruce the younger was 
this year a bejan at Alec's college, and besides was the only 
other scion of Glamerton there grafted, so that any news 
about Alec other than he would care to send himself, must 
in all likelihood have come through him. — For Bruce the 
elder had determined that in his son he would restore the 
fallen fortunes of the family, giving him such an education as 
would entitle him to hold up his head with the best, and 
especially with that proud upstart, Alec Forbes. 

The news had reached Thomas Crann, and filled him with 
concern. He had, as was his custom in trouble, betaken 
himself straightway to " the throne of grace," and " wrestled 
in prayer " with God that he would restore the prodigal to 
his mother. What would Thomas have thought if he had 
been told that his anxiety, genuine as it was, that his love, 
true as it was, did not come near the love and anxiety of 
another man who spent his evenings in drinking whisky and 
reading heathen poets, and who, although he knew not a 
little of his Bible, never opened it from one end of the year 
to the other ? If he had been told that Cosmo Cupples had 
more than once, after the first tumbler of toddy and before 
the second, betaken himself to his prayers for his poor Alec 
Forbes, and entreated God Almighty to do for him what he 



364 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

could not do, though he would die for him — to rescue him 
from the fearful pit and the miry clay of moral pollution — 
if he had heard this, he would have said that it was a sad 
pity, but such prayers could not be answered, seeing he that 
prayed was himself in the gall of bitterness and the bond of 
iniquity. 

There was much shaking of the head amongst the old 
women. Many an ejaculation and many a meditative eh 
me ! were uttered over Alec's fall ; and many a word of 
tender pity for his poor mother floated forth on the frosty 
air of Glamerton ; but no one ventured to go and tell the 
dreary tidings. The men left it to the women ; and the 
women knew too well how the bearer of such ill news would 
appear in her eyes, to venture upon the ungracious task. 
So they said to themselves she must know it just as well as 
they did ; or if she did not know, poor woman ! she would 
know time enough for all the good it would do her. And 
that came of sending sons to college ! etc., etc. 

But there was just one not so easily satisfied about the 
extent of her duties : that was little Isie Constable. 



CHAPTER LXXIV. 



The tertians gave a supper at Luckie Cumstie's, and in- 
vited the magistrands. On such an occasion Beauchamp, 
with his high sense of his own social qualities, would 
not willingly be absent. When the hour arrived, he took 
his place near the head of the table. 

After all the solid and a part of the liquid entertainment 
was over. Alec arose in the space between two toasts, and 
said : 

" Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I propose, at my own 
proper cost, to provide something for your amusement." 

Beauchamp and all stared at the speaker. 

** It is to be regretted," Alec went on, "that students 
have no court of honor to which to appeal. This is the first 
opportunity I have had of throwing myself on the generosity 
of my equals, and asking them to listen to my story." 

The interest of the company was already roused. All 
the heads about the long table leaned toward the speaker, 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 365 

and cries of hear^ hear, arose in all directions. Alec then 
gave a brief statement of the facts of the encounter upon 
the bridge. This was the only part of his relations with Beau- 
champ which he chose to bring before the public ; for the 
greater wrong of lying defamation involved his cousin's 
name. He told how Beauchamp had sought the encounter 
by deliberate insult, had used a weapon against an unarmed 
enemy, and then thrown him from the bridge. 

" Now," he concluded, " all I ask of you, gentlemen, is to 
allow me the fair arena of your presence while I give this 
sneaking chieftain the personal chastisement which he has so 
richly merited at my hands." 

Beauchamp had soon recovered his self-possession after 
the first surprise of the attack. He .sat drinking his toddy 
all the time Alec spoke, and in the middle of his speech he 
mixed himself another tumbler. When Alec sat down, he 
rose, glanced round the assembly, bent his lip into its most 
scornful curves, and, in a clear, unwavering voice, said : 
" Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I repel the accusation." 
Alec started to his feet in wrath. 

" Mr. Forbes, sit down," bawled the chairman ; and Alec 
obeyed, though with evident reluctance. 

" I say the accusation is false," repeated Beauchamp. " I 
do not say that Mr. Forbes consciously invented the calum- 
ny in order to take away my character ; such an assertion 
would preclude its own credence. Nor do I venture to 
affirm that he never was stabbed, or thrown into the river. 
But I ask any gentleman who happens to be aware of Mr. 
Forbes's devotion at the shrine of Father Lyajus, which is 
the more likely — that a fellow-student should stab and 
throw him into the water, or that, as he was reeling home 
at midnight, the treacherous divinity of the bowl should 
have handed him over to the embrace of his brother 
deity of the river. Why then should even his imagination 
fix upon me as the source of the injury ? Gentlemen, a fool- 
ish attachment to the customs of a long line of ancestors 
has led me into what I find for the first time to be a danger- 
ous habit — that of wearing arms ; — dangerous, I mean, to 
myself ; for now I am wounded with my own weapon. But 
the real secret of the affair is — I am ashamed to say — jeal- 
ousy. Mr. Forbes knows what I say to be true — that a lady 
whom he loves prefers me to him." 

" Don't bring her name in, you brute ! " roared Alec, 
starting again to his feet, " or V\\ tear your tongue out." 



366 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" You hear, gentlemen," said Beauchamp, and sat down. 

A murmur arose. Heads gathered into groups. No one 
stood up. Alec felt with the deepest mortification that his 
adversary's coolness and his own violence had turned the 
scale against him. This conviction, conjoined with the 
embarrassment of not knowing how to say a word in his 
own defense without taking some notice of the close of his 
adversary's speech, fixed him to his seat. For he had not 
yet fallen so low as to be capable of even alluding to the 
woman he loved in such an assembly. He would rather 
abandon the field to his adversary. 

Probably not many seconds had passed, but his situation 
was becoming intolerable, when a well-known voice rose 
clear above the confused murmur ; and glancing to the 
lower end of the room, he saw Cosmo Cupples standing at 
the end of the table. 

" I ken weel eneuch, gentlemen," he said, " that I hae no 
richt to be here. Ye a' ken me by the sicht o' the een. I'm 
a graduate o' this university, and at present your humble 
servant the librarian, I intrude for the sake o' justice, and 
I cast mysel' upo' your clemency for a fair hearin'," 

This being accorded by general acclamation, 

** Gentlemen," he resumed, " I stan' afore ye wi* a sair 
hert. I hae occupied the position o' tutor to Mr. Forbes ; 
for, as Sir Pheelip Sidney says in a letter to his brither Rob, 
wha was efterwards Yerl o' Leicester upo' the demise o' 
Robert Dudley, * Ye may get wiser men nor yersel' to con- 
verse wi' ye and instruck ye, inane o' twaways — bymuckle 
ootlay or muckle humility.' Noo that laddie was ane o' the 
finest natur's I ever cam' across, and his humility jist made 
it a pleesur to tak' chairge o' 'm baith mentally and morally. 
That I had a sair doon come whan he took to the drink, I 
am forced to confess. But I aye thocht he was straucht- 
foret, notwithstandin' the whusky. I wasna prepared for sic 
a downfa' as this — I maun jist confess, Mr. Cheerman, that 
I heard him throu' the crack o' the door-cheek. And he 
broucht sic deevilich accusations — " 

" Mr. Cupples ! " cried Alec. 

" Haud yer tongue. Alec Forbes, and lat this company 
hear me. Ye appealed to the company yersel' first o' a'. — I 
say hoo cud he bring sic deevilich accusations against a gen- 
tleman o' sic birth and breedin' and accomplishments as the 
Laird o' Chattachan ! — Maybe the Laird wad jist condescend 
to say whaur he was upo' the nicht in question ; for gin we 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 367 

cud get the rampaugin' misguidit laddie ance fairly into the 
yard, wi' the yetts sleekit (gaJes closed), he wad see that 
leein' wadna serve his turn." 

Alec was in chaotic confusion. Notwithstanding the hard 
words Mr. Cupples had used, he could ill believe that he 
had turned his enemy. He had behaved very badly to Mr. 
Cupples, but was Mr. Cupples one to revenge himself ? 

Mr. Cupples had paused with his eyes resting on Beau- 
champ. He, without rising, replied carelessly : 

" Really, sir, I do not keep a register of my goings and 
comings. I might have done so had I known its importance. 
I have not even been informed when the occurrence is said 
to have taken place." 

'■'■ I can gie your memory a prod upo' the dates, sir. For 
I ken weel the nicht whan Alec Forbes cam' hame wi' a lang 
and deep cut upo' the ootside o' 's left airm atween the 
shouther an' the elbuck. I may weel remember 't to my 
grief ; for though he cam' hame as sober as he was drippin' 
weet — I hae oor gudewife's testimony to that — he gaed oot 
again, and whan he cam' hame ance mair, he was the waur o' 
drink for the first time sin' ever I kent him. Noo, sir, it a' 
took place the same day that ye cam' to the leebrary, and 
tuik awa'wi' ye a novell ca'd Aiken Drum. I tauld ye it 
wad ill repay ye, for it was but a fule thing. And I remem- 
ber 't the better that I was expeckin' Alec Forbes in ilka 
minute, and I was feared for a collieshangie {outbreak) 
atween ye." 

" I remember all about that night perfectly, now you call 
it to my recollection. I went straight home, and did not go 
out again — I was so taken up with /liken Drum." 

" I tell't ye sae ! " cried Cupples, triumphantly. " Wha 
wadna tak' the word o' the MacChattachan ? There's sma' 
profit in addin' my testimony to the weight o' that ; but I 
wad jist like to tell this company, Mr. Cheerman and gen- 
tlemen, hoo I cam' to ken mair aboot the affair nor my 
frien' Alec Forbes is awar' o'. That same efternoon, I ex- 
peckit him i' the leebrary as I hae said, and whan he didna 
come, I took my hat — that was about a half-hoor efter the 
laird left me — and gaed oot to luik for him. I gaed ower 
the links ; for my man had the profitless habit at that time, 
whilk he's gien up for a mair profitless still, o' stravaguin' 
aboot upo' the sea-shore, wi' 's han's in 's pooches, and his 
chin rcposin' upo' the third button o' 's waistcoat — all 
which bears hard upo' what the laird says aboot jealousy. 



368 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

The mune were jist risin' by the time I wan to the shore, 
but I saw no sign o' man or woman alangthat dreary coast, 
I was jist turnin' to come hame again, whan I came upo' 
tracks i' the weet san'. And I kent the print o' the fit, and 
I followed it on to the links again, and sae I gaed back at 
my leisure. And it were sic a bonny nicht, though the 
mune wasna that far up, drivin' lang shadows afore her, that 
I thocht I wad jist gang ance owerthe brig and back again, 
and syne maybe turn into Luckie Cumstie's here. But afore 
I wan to the brig, whan I was i' the shaidow o' Baillie Bapp's 
hoose, I heard sic a scushlin' and a shochlin' upo' the brig ! 
and I saw something gang reelin' aboot ; and afore I cud 
gaither my wits and rin foret, I heard an awfu' splash i' the 
water ; and by gangs somebody wi' lang quaiet strides, and 
never saw me. He had on the kilts and the lave o' the fan- 
dangles. And he turned into the quadrangle, andthrou't he 
gaed and oot at the corners o' 't. I was close ahint him — 
that is, I was into the quadrangle afore he was oot o' 't. 
And I saw the sacrist come oot at the door o' the astronom- 
ical tooer jist afore the Hielanman turned the neuk o' 't. 
And I said to Thomson, says I, ' Wha was that gaed by ye, 
and oot the back gait ? ' And says he, * It was Maister 
Beauchamp.* ' Are ye sure o' that ? ' says I. * As sure's 
deith,' says he. Ye ken William's phrase, gentlemen." 

Beauchamp's nonchalance had disappeared for some 
time. When his own name came out, his cheeks grew 
deadly pale, and thin from the falling of his jaw. Cupples, 
watching him, went on. 

" As sune's I was sure o' my man, I saw what a damned 
idiot I was to rin efter him. And back I flew to the brig. 
I kent full weel wha the ither man bude to be. It could be 
nane but my ain Alec Forbes ; for I sweir to ye, gentlemen, 
I hae watched The MacChattachan watchin' Alec Forbes 
mair nor twa or three times sin' Alec throosh him for bein' 
foul-mou'd i' the face o' the deid." 

By this time Beauchamp, having swallowed the rest of his 
tumbler at a gulp, had recovered a little. He rose with 
defiance on his face. 

" Dinna lat him gang, gentlemen," cried Cupples, " till 
I tell ye ae ither God's trowth. — I ran back to the brig, as 
hard's my legs cud carry me, consolin' mysel' wi' the reflec- 
tion that gin Alec had na been sair hurtit i' the scuffle, there 
was no fear o' him. For I heard him fa' clean into the 
water, and I kent ye micht as sune droon a herrin' as Alec 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 369 

Forbes. I ran richt to the mids' o' the brig and there was 
the black heid o' him bobbin' awa' doon the water i' the hert 
o' the munelicht. I'm terrible lang-sichtit, gentlemen. I 
canna sweir that I saw the face o' 'm, seein' the back o' 's 
heid was to me ; but that it was Alec Forbes, I hae no more 
doobt than o' my ain existence. I was jist turnin', nearhan' 
the greetin', for I lo'ed the laddie weel, whan I saw some- 
thing glintin' bonnie upo' the parapet o' the brig. And noo 
I beg to restore't till'ts richtful owner. Wad ye pass't up the 
table, gentlemen. Some o' ye will recogneeze't as ane o' the 
laird's bonnie cairngorum-buttons." 

Handing the button to the man nearest him, Mr. Cupples 
withdrew into a corner, and leaned his back against the wall. 
The button made many a zigzag from side to side of the 
table, but Beauchamp saw the yellow gleam of it coming 
nearer and nearer. It seemed to fascinate him. At last 
bursting the bonds of dismay, the blood rushed into his pale 
face, and he again moved to go. 

" A conspiracy, gentlemen ! " he cried. " You are all 
against me. I will not trouble you longer with my presence. 
I will bide my time." 

" Stop a moment, Mr. Beauchamp," said the chairman — 
the pale-faced son of a burly plowman — rising. "Your 
departure will scarcely satisfy us now. Gentlemen, form 
yourselves in a double row, and grace the exit of a disgrace. 
I leave it to yourselves to kick him or not as you may think 
proper. But I think myself the way is to be merciful to the 
confounded. Better leave him to his own conscience." 

Beauchamp's hand, following its foolish habit, fell upon 
the hilt of his dirk. 

" Draw that dirk one inch," said the chairman hastily, 
clenching his fist, *' and I'll have you thrown on Luckie Cum- 
stie's midden." 

Beauchamp's hand dropped. The men formed as directed. 

" Now," said the chairman sternly. 

And Beauchamp without a word marched down the long 
avenue white as a ghost, and looking at nobody. Each 
made him a low bow as he passed, except the wag of the 
tertians, who turned his back on him and bowed to the 
universe in general. Mr. Cupples was next the door, and 
bowed him out. Alec alone stood erect. He could not 
insult him. 

Beauchamp's feelings I do not care to analyze. As he 
passes from that room, he passes from my history. — I do not 



37° ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

think a man with such an unfavorable start, could arrive at 
the goal of repentance in this life. 

" Mr. Cupples," cried the chairman, " will you oblige us 
by spending the rest of the evening with us ?•" 

" You do me mair honor nor I deserve, sir," replied Mr. 
Cupples ; " but that villain Alec Forbes has cost me sae 
muckle in drink to hand my hert up, that I winna drink in 
his company. I micht tak' ower muckle and disgrace mysel' 
forbye. Good nicht to ye a', gentlemen, and my best 
thanks." 

So saying Mr. Cupples left the room before Alec could 
get near him with a word or a sign of gratitude. But sorry 
and ashamed as he was, his spirits soon returned. Congrat- 
ulation restored him to his worse self ; and ere long he felt 
that he had deserved well of the community. The hostess 
turned him out with the last few at midnight, for one of the 
professors was provost ; and he went homewards with another 
student, who also lived in the new town. 

The two, however, not having had enough of revelry yet, 
turned aside into a lane, and thence up a court leading to a 
low public-house, which had a second and worse reputation. 
Into this Alec's companion went. Alec followed. But he 
was suddenly seized in the dark, and ejected with violence. 
Recovering himself from his backward stagger into the court, 
he raised his arm to strike. Before him stood a little man, 
who had apparently followed him out of the public-house. 
His hands were in the pockets of his trowsers, and the wind 
was blowing about the tails of his old dress-coat. 

Nor was Alec too far gone to recognize him. 

" You, Mr. Cupples ! " he exclaimed. " I didna expect 
to see you here." 

" I never was across the door-sill o' sic a place afore," 
said Mr. Cupples, *' nor please God, will either you or me 
ever cross sic a door-sill again." 

" Hooly, hooly, Mr. Cupples ! Speak for ane at a time. 
I'm gaein' in this minute. Luckie Cumstie turned on the 
caller air ower sune for me." 

" Man ! " said Cupples, laying hold of Alec's coat, " think 
that ye hae a mither. Ilka word that ye hear frae a worth- 
less woman is an affront to yer mither." 

" Dinna Stan' preachin' to me. I'm past that." 

" Alec, ye'll wiss to God ye hadna, whan ye come to marry 
a bonnie wife." 

It was a true but ill-timed argument. Alec flared up wildly. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 37 1 

" Wife ! " he cried, ** there's no wife for me. Haud oot o' 
my gait. Dinna ye see I hae been drinkin' ? And I winna 
be centred." 

" Drinkin' ! " exclaimed Mr. Cupples. '* Little ye ken 
aboot drinkin'. I hae drunken three times as muckle as you. 
And gin that be ony argument for me haudin' oot o' your 
gait, it's mair argument yet for you to haud oot o' mine. I 
sweir to God I winna stan' this ony langer. Ye're to come 
hame wi' me frae this mou' o' hell and ugsome {frightful) 
deith. It gangs straucht to the everlastin' burnin's. Eh, 
man ! to think nae mair o' women nor that ! " 

And the brave little man placed himself right between 
Alec and the door, which now opened half-way, showing 
several peering and laughing faces. 

But the opposition of Mr. Cupples had increased the 
action of the alcohol upon Alec's brain, and he blazed up in 
a fury at the notion of being made a laughter to the women. 
He took one step toward Mr. Cupples, who had restored 
his hands to his pockets and backed a few paces toward 
the door of the house, to guard against Alec's passing him. 

" Haud oot o' my gait, or I'll gar ye," he said fiercely. 

" I will not," answered Mr. Cupples, and lay senseless on 
the stones of the court. 

Alec strode into the house, and the door closed behind 
him. 

By slow degrees Mr. Cupples came to himself. He was 
half dead with cold, and his head was aching frightfully. A 
pool of blood lay on the stones already frozen. He crawled 
on his hands and knees, till he reached a wall, by which he 
raised and steadied himself. Feeling along this wall, he got 
into the street ; but he was so confused and benumbed that 
if a watchman had not come up, he would have died on some 
doorstep. The man knew him and got him home. He 
allowed both him and his landlady to suppose that his con- 
dition was the consequence of drink ; and so was helped up 
to his garret and put to bed. 



CHAPTER LXXV. 

All the night during which Isie Constable lay dreaming 
of racks, pincers, screws, and Alec Forbes, the snow was 
busy falling outside, shrouding the world once more ; so that 
next day the child could not get out upon any pretense. 
Had she succeeded in escaping from the house, she might 
have been lost in the snow, or drowned in the Glamour, 
over which there was as yet only a rude temporary bridge 
to supply the place of that which had been swept away. 
But although very uneasy at the obstruction of her projects, 
she took good care to keep her own counsel. — The snow was 
very obstinate to go. At length, after many days, she was 
allowed to go out with stockings over her shoes, and play 
in the garden. No sooner was she alone than she darted 
out of the garden by the back-gate, and before her mother 
missed her, was crossing the Glamour. She had never been 
so far alone, and felt frightened ; but she pushed bravely 
forward. 

Mrs. Forbes and Annie Anderson were sitting together 
when Mary put her head in at the door and told her mis- 
tress that the daughter of Mr. Constable, the clothier, wanted 
to see her. 

" Why, she's a mere infant, Mary ! " exclaimed Mrs. 
Forbes. 

" 'Deed is she, mem ; but she's nane the less doon the 
stair i' the kitchie. Ye wad hae seen her come yersel' but 
she's ower wee. Ye cudna get a glimp o' her ower the 
edge o' the snaw i' the cuttin' doon to the yett. Hoo her 
fowk cud lat her oot ! She's a puir wee white-faced elf o' 
a crater, but she's byous auld-farrand and wise-like, and 
naething will do but she maun see yersel', mem." 

" Bring her up, Mary. Poor little thing ! What can she 
want ? " 

Presently Isie entered the room, looking timidly about her. 

" Well, my dear, what do you want ? " 

" It's aboot Alec, mem," said Isie, glancing towards 
Annie. 

" Well, what about him ? " asked Mrs. Forbes, considera- 
bly bewildered, but not fearing bad news from the mouth of 
such a messenger. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 373 

" Hae ye heard naething aboot him, mem ? " 

" Nothing particular, I haven't heard from him for a fort- 
night." 

" That's easy accoontit for, mem." 

" What do you mean, my dear ? Speak out." 

" Weel, mem, the way I heard it was raither partic'lar, and 
I wadna hke a'body to ken." 

Here she glanced again at Annie. 

" You needn't be afraid of Annie Anderson," said Mrs. 
Forbes smiling. " What is it ? " 

" Weel, mem, I didna richtly ken. But they hae ta'en 
him intil a dreidfu' place, and whether they hae left a haill 
inch o' skin upo' 's body, is mair nor I can tell ; but they 
hae rackit him, and pu'd o' 's nails aff, maybe them a', 
and — " 

" Good heavens ! " exclaimed Mrs. Forbes, with a most 
unusual inclination to hysterics, seeing something terrible 
peep from behind the grotesque report of Isie, " what do you 
mean, child ? " 

" I'm tellin' ye't as I heard it, mem. I houp they haena 
brunt him yet. Ye maun gang and tak' him oot o' their 
han's." 

" Whose hands, child ? Who's doing all this to him ? " 

" They stan' aboot the corners o' the streets, mem, in 
muckle toons, and they catch a baud o' young laads, and 
trail them awa' wi' them, and they jist torment the life oot 
o' them. They say they're women ; but I dinna believe 
that. It's no possible. They maun be men dressed up in 
women's claes." 

Was it a great relief to the mother's heart to find that the 
childish understanding of Isie had misinterpreted and mis- 
represented ? She rose and left the room, and her troubled 
step went to and fro overhead. And the spirit of Annie was 
troubled likewise. How much she understood, I can not 
determine ; but I believe that a sense of vague horror and 
pity overwhelmed her heart. Yet the strength of her kind- 
ness forced her to pay some attention to the innocent little 
messenger of evil. 

" Whaur heard ye a' that, Isie, dear ? " 

" I heard my father and my mither gaein' on lahientin' 
ower him efter I was i' my bed, and they thocht I was 
asleep. But gin Mistress Forbes winna tak' him awa', I'll 
gang and tell a' the ministers in Glamerton, and see whether 
they winna raise the toon." 



374 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Annie stared in amazement at the wee blue-eyed wizened 
creature before her speaking with the decision of a minor 
prophet. 

" Is the child here still ? " said Mrs. Forbes with some 
asperity as she re-entered the room. " I must go by the 
mail this afternoon, Annie." 

" That's richt, mem," said Isie. "The suner the better, 
I'm sure. He mayna be deid yet." 

" What a very odd child ! " said Mrs. Forbes. 

" Wouldn't it be better to write first, ma'am ? " suggested 
Annie. 

Before Mrs. Forbes could reply, the white mutch of Mrs. 
Constable appeared over the top of the snow that walled the 
path. She was in hot pursuit of her child, whose footsteps 
she had traced. When shown into the dining-room, she 
rushed up to her, and caught her to her bosom, crying, 

" Ye ill-contrived smatchit ! What hae ye been aboot, 
rinnin' awa' this gait ? I wonner ye wasna droont i' the 
Glamour." 

** I don't see what better you could expect of your own 
child, Mrs. Constable, if you go spreading reports against 
other people's children," said Mrs. Forbes bitterly. 

" It's a lee whaever said sae," retorted Mrs. Constable 
fiercely. " Wha tell't ye that ? " 

" Where else could your child have heard such reports, 
then ? " 

" Isie ! Isie ! My poor wee bairn ! What hae ye been 
aboot to tak' awa' yer mither's gude name ? " 

And she hugged the child closer yet. 

Isie hung down her head, and began to have dim percep- 
tions that she might have been doing mischief with the best 
possible intentions. 

" I only tell't Mistress Forbes hoo ill they war to Alec." 

After a moment's reflection, Mrs. Constable turned with 
a subdued manner to Mrs. Forbes. 

" The bairn's a curious bairn, mem," she said. " And 
she's overheard her father and me speakin' thegither as 
gin't had been only ae body thinkin'. For gin ever twa was 
ane, that twa and that ane is Andrew Constable and 
mysel'." 

" But what right had you to talk about my son ? " 

"Weel, mem, that question gangs rather far. What's 
already procleemed frae the hoose-taps may surely be 
spoken i' the ear in closets — for oor back-room is but a 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 375 

closet. Gin ye think that fowk'U haud their tongues about 
5''our bairn mair nor ony ither body's bairn ye're mista'en, 
mem. But never ane heard o' 't frae me, and I can tak" my 
bodily aith for my man, for he's jist by ordinar' for haudin* 
his tongue. I cud hardly worm it oot o' 'm mysel'." 

Mrs. F'orbes saw that she had been too hasty. 

" What does it all mean, Mrs. Constable ? " she said, " for 
I am quite ignorant." 

" Ye may weel be that, mem. And maybe there's no a 
word o' trouth i' the story, for I'm doobtin' the win' that 
brocht it blew frae an ill airt." 

" I really don't understand you, Mrs. Constable. What 
do they say about him ? " 

" Ow, jist that he's consortin' wi' the warst o' ill company, 
mem. But as I said to Anerew, maybe he'll come oot o' 
their cluiks no that muckle the waur, efter a'." 

Mrs. Forbes sank on the sofa, and hid her face in her 
hands. Annie turned white as death, and left the room. 
When Mrs. Forbes lifted her head, Mrs. Constable and her 
strange child had vanished. 

Mrs. Forbes and Annie wept together bitterly, in the 
shadow of death which the loved one cast upon them across 
the white plains and hills. Then the mother sat down and 
wrote, begging him to deny the terrible charge ; after 
which they both felt easier. But when the return of post 
had brought no reply, and the next day was likewise barren 
of tidings, Mrs. Forbes resolved to go to the hateful city at 
once. 



CHAPTER LXXVI. 



When Alec woke in the morning, it rushed upon his 
mind that he had had a terrible dream ; and he reproached 
himself that even in a dream he should be capable of strik- 
ing to the earth the friend who had just saved him from 
disgrace, and wanted to save him from more. But as his 
headache began to yield to cold water, discomposing doubts 
rose upon his clearing mental horizon. They were absurd, 
but still they were unpleasant. It could be only a dream 
that he had felled the man twice his age, and half his size, 
who had once shed his blood for him. But why did it look 



376 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

SO like fact, if it was only a dream ? Horrible thought ! 
Could it ? — It could — It must be — It was a fact ! 

Haggard with horror as well as revelry, he rushed 
toward the stair, but was met by Mrs. Leslie, who stopped 
him and said : 

" Mr. Forbes, gin you and Mr. Cupples gang on at this 
rate, I'll be forced to gie ye baith warnin' to flit. I oucht 
to hae written to yer mither afore noo. Ye'll brack her 
hert or a' be dune. Eh ! it's a sair thing whan young lads 
tak' to drink, and turn reprobates in a jiffie [moment]." 

" I dinna gang to your kirk, and ye needna preach to me. 
What's the maitter wi' Mr. Cupples ? He hasna ta'en to 
drink in a jiffie, has he ? " 

" Ye scorner ! He cam' hame last nicht bleedin' at the 
heid, and i' the ban's o' the watchman. Puir man ! he cud 
hardly win up the stair. I canna think hoo he cam' to fa' 
sae sair ; for they say there's a special Providence watches 
ower drunk men and bairns. He was an awfu' sicht, hon- 
est man ! A terrible mixter o' reid and white." 

'' What said he about it ? " asked Alec trembling. 

" Ow, naething. He had naething till say. Ye maunna 
gang near him ; for I left him fast asleep. Gang awa' benn 
to yer ain room, and I'll be in wi' yer brakfast in ten 
minutes. Eh ! but ye wad be a fine lad gin ye wad only gie 
up the drink and the ill company." 

Alec obeyed, ashamed and full of remorse. The only 
thing he could do was to attend to Mr. Cupples's business 
in the library, where he worked at the catalogue till the 
afternoon lecture was over. 

Nobody had seen Beauchamp, and the blinds of Kate's 
windows were drawn down. 

All day his heart was full of Mr. Cupples ; and as he 
went home he recalled every thing with perfect distinctness, 
and felt that his conduct had been as vile as it was possible 
for conduct to be. Because a girl could not love him, he 
had ceased to love his mother, had given himself up to 
Satan, and had returned his friend's devotion with a mur- 
derous blow. Because he could not have a bed of roses, he 
had thrown himself down in the pig-sty. He rushed into a 
public-house, and swallowed two glasses of whisky. That 
done, he went straight home and ran up to Mr. Cupples's 
room. 

Mr. Cupples was sitting before the fire, with his hands on 
his knees and his head bound in white, bloodstained. He 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 377 

turned a ghastly face, and tried to smile. Alec's heart gave 
way utterly. He kneeled at Mr. Cupples's feet, laid his head 
on his knee, and burst into very unsaxon but most gracious 
tears. Mr. Cupples laid a small trembling hand on the 
boy's head, saying, 

" Eh ! bantam, bantam ! " and could say no more. 

" Mr. Cupples," sobbed Alec, " forgive me. I'll cut my 
throat, gin ye like." 

" Ye wad do better to cut the deevil's throat." 

" Hoo could I do that ? Tell me, and I'll do't." 

" Wi' the broken whisky-bottle, man. That's at the root 
o' a' the mischeef. It's no you. It's the drink. And eh ! 
Alec, we micht be richt happy thegither efter that. I wad 
mak' a scholar o' ye." 

" Weel, Mr. Cupples, ye hae a richt to demand o' me what 
ye like ; for henceforth ye hae the pooer o' life or deith ower 
me. But gin I try to brak throu the drinkin', I maun hand 
oot ower frae the smell o' 't ; an' I doobt," added Alec 
slyly, "ye wadna hae the chance o' makin' muckle o' a 
scholar o' me in that case." 

And now the dark roots of thought and feeling blossomed 
into the fair flower of resolution. 

" Bantam," said Mr. Cupples solemnly, " I sweir to God, 
gin ye'U gie ower the drink and the lave o' yer ill gaits, I'll 
gie ower the drink as weel. I hae naething ither to gie 
owei". But that winna be easy," he added with a sigh, 
stretching his hand toward his glass. 

From a sudden influx of energy. Alec stretched his hand 
likewise towards the same glass, and laying hold on it as 
Mr. Cupples was raising it to his lips, cried : 

" I sweir to God likewise — and noo," he added, leaving 
his hold of the glass, " ye daurna drink it." 

Mr. Cupples threw glass and all into the fire. 

" That's my fareweel libation to the infernal Bacchus," he 
said. " Lat it gang to swall the low o' Phlegethon. But 
eh ! it's a terrible undertakin'. It'smair nor Hercules him- 
sel' could hae made ony thing o'. Bantam ! I hae saicri- 
feesed mysel' to you. Haud to your pairt, or I canna haud 
to mine." 

It was indeed a terrible undertaking. I doubt whether 
either of them would have had courage for it, had he not 
been under those same exciting influences — which, under- 
mining all power of manly action, yet give for the moment 
a certain amount of energy to expend. But the limits are 



37^ ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

narrow within which, by wasting his capital, a man secures 
a supply of pocket money. And for th^im the tug of war 
was to come. 

They sat on opposite sides of the table and stared at each 
other. As the spirituous tide ebbed from the brain, more 
and more painful visions of the near future steamed up. Yet 
even already conscience began to sustain them. Her wine 
was strong, and they were so little used to it that it even 
excited them. 

With Alec the struggle would soon be over. His nervous 
system would speedily recover its healthy operations. But 
Cupples — from whose veins alcohol had expelled the blood, 
whose skull was a Circean cup of hurtful spells — would not 
delirium follow for him ? 

Suddenly Alec laid his hand on the bottle. Mr. Cupples 
trembled. Was he going to break his vow already ? 

" Wadna't be better to fling this into the neist yard, Mr. 
Cupples ? " said Alec. " We daurna fling't i' the fire. It 
wad set the chimley in a low {/lame)." 

" Na, na. Lat ye't sit," returned Mr. Cupples. ** I wad 
be clean affrontit gin I couldna see and forbear. Ye 
may jist pit it into the press though. A body needna lay 
burdens grievous to be borne upo' himsel' mair nor upo' 
ither fowk. Noo, lat's hae a game o* cribbage, to hand's 
ohn thocht aboot it." 

They played two or three games. It was pathetic to see 
how Mr'. Cupples's right hand, while he looked at the cards in 
his left, would go blindly flitting about the spot where his 
glass had always used to stand ; and how, when he looked 
up unable to find it, his face shadowed over with disappoint- 
ment. After those two or three games, he threw down the 
cards, saying, 

" It winna do, bantam. I dinna like the cafrts the nicht. 
Wi'oot ony thing to weet them, they're dooms dry. What 
say ye to a chorus o' ^schylus ? " 

Alec's habits of study had been quite broken up of late. 
Even the medical lectures and the hospital classes had been 
neglected. So vEschylus could not be much of a consolatory 
amusement in the blank which follows all exorcism. But 
Cupples felt that if no good spirit came into the empty 
house, sweeping and garnishing would only entice the seven 
to take the place of the one. So he tried to interest his 
pupil once again in his old studies ; and by frequent changes 
did ere long succeed in holding tedium at bay. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 379 

But all his efforts would have resulted in nothing but that 
vain sweeping and garnishing, had not both their hearts 
been already tenanted by one good and strong spirit — • 
essential life and humanity. That spirit was Love, which at 
the long last will expel whatsoever opposeth itself. While 
Alec felt that he must do every thing to please Mr. Cupples, 
he, on his part, felt that all the future of the youth lay in 
his hands. He forgot the pangs of alcoholic desire in his 
fear lest Alec should not be able to endure the tedium of 
abstinence ; and Alec's gratitude and remorse made him 
humble as a slave to the little big-hearted man whom he 
had injured so cruelly. 

" I'm tired and maun gang to my bed, for I hae a sair 
held," said Mr, Cupples that first night. 
** That's my doin' ! " said Alec, sorrowfully. 
" Gin this new repentance o' yours and mine turns oot to 
hae ony thing in't we'll baith hae rizzon to be thankfu' that 
ye cloured {dinted) my skull. Alec. But eh me ! I'm feared 
I winna sleep muckle the nicht." 

" Wad ye like me to sit up wi' ye ? " asked Alec. " I cud 
sleep i' your cheir weel eneuch." 

" Na, na. We hae baith need to say oor prayers, and we 
cudna do that weel thegither. Gang ye awa' to yer bed, 
and min' yer vow to God and to me. And dinna forget yer 
prayers. Alec." 

Neither of them forgot his prayers. Alec slept soundly — 
Mr. Cupples not at all. 

" I think," he said, when Alec appeared in the morning, 
** I winna tak' sic a hardship upo' me anither nicht. Jist 
open the cat's door and fling the bottle into somebody's 
yard.' I houp it winna cut ony body's feet." 

Alec flew to the cupboard and dragged out the demon. 
" Noo," said Mr. Cupples, " open the twa doors wide, and 
fling 't wi' a birr, that I may hear its last speech and dyin' 
declaration." 

Alec did as he was desired, and the bottle fell on the 
stones of a little court. The clash rose to the ears of Mr. 
Cupples. 

" Thank God ! " he said with a sigh. — " Alec, no man that 
hasna gane throu the same, can tell what 1 hae gane throu 
this past nicht, wi' that deevil i' the press there cryin' * Come 
pree {taste) me ! come pree me !' But I heard and heark- 
ened not. And yet whiles i' the nicht, although I'm sure I 
didna sleep a wink, I thocht I was fumblin' awa' at the lock 



380 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

o' the press an' cudna get it opened. And the press was a 
coffin set up upo' its en" and I kent that there was a corp 
inside it, and yet I tried sair to open't. An' syne again, I 
thocht it was the gate o' Paradees afore which stud the 
angel wi' the flamin' sword that turned ilka gait, and wadna 
lat me in. But I'm some better sin' the licht cam', and I 
would fain hae a drappy o' that fine caller tipple they ca' 
watter." 

Alec ran down and brought it cold from the pump, saying, 
as Mr. Cupples returned the tumbler with a look of thanks, 
" But there's the tappit-hen. I doot gin we lea' her i' the 
press, she'll be wantin' to lay. " 

" Na, na, nae fear o' that. She's as toom's a cock. Gang 
and luik. The last drap in her wame flaw oot at the window 
i' that bottle. Eh ! Alec, but I'll hae a sair day, and ye 
maun be true to me. Gie me my Homer, or I'll never win 
throu't. An ye may lay John Milton within my rax {reach) ; 
for I winna pit my leg oot o' the blankets till ye com.e hame. 
Sae ye maunna be langer nor ye can help." 
Alec promised, and set off with a light heart. 
Beauchamp was at none of the classes. And the blinds 
of Kate's windows were still drawn down. 

For a whole week he came home as early as possible and 
spent the rest of the day with Mr. Cupples. But many 
dreary hours passed over them both. The suffering of Mr, 
Cupples and the struggle which he had to sustain with the 
constant craving of his whole being, are perhaps indescrib- 
able ; but true to his vow and to his friend, he endured 
manfully. Still it was with a rueful-comical look and a sigh, 
sometimes, that he would sit-down to his tea, remarking, 

" Eh, man ! this is meeserable stuff — awfu' weyk tipple — a 
pagan invention a'thegither." 

But the tea comforted the poor half-scorched, half-sodden 
nerves notwithstanding, and by slow degrees they began to 
gather tone and strength ; his appetite improved ; and at 
the end of the week he resumed his duties in the iibrary. 
And thenceforth, as soon as his classes were over, Alec 
would go to the library to Mr. Cupples, or on other days 
Mr. Cupples would linger near the medical school or hos- 
pital, till Alec came out, and then they would go home 
together. Once home, both found enough to do in getting 
one of them up to the mark of the approaching examinations. 
— Two pale-faced creatures they sat there, in Mr. Cupples's 
garret, looking wretched and subdued enough, although 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 381 

occasionally they broke out laughing, as the sparks of life 
revived and flickered into merriment. 

Inquiring after Miss Fraser, Alec learned that she was ill. 
The maid inquired in return if he knew any thing about Mr. 
Beauchamp. 



CHAPTER LXXVII. 



Mr. Cupples and Alec were hard at work — the table 
covered with books and papers : when a knock came to the 
.door — the rarest occurrence in that skyey region — and the 
landlady ushered in Mrs. Forbes. 

The two men sprang to their feet, and Mrs. Forbes stared 
with gratified amazement. The place was crowded with 
signs of intellectual labor, and not even a pack of cards was 
visible. 

" Why didn't you answer my last letter. Alec ? " she said. 

It had dropped behind some books, and he had never 
ssen it. 

" What is the meanmg, then, of such reports about you ? " 
she resumed, venturing to put the question in the presence 
of Mr. Cupples in the hope of a corroborated refutation. 

Alec looked confused, grew red, and was silent. Mr. 
Cupples took up the reply. 

*' Ye see, mem, it's a pairt o' the edication o' the human 
individual, frae the time o' Adam and Eve doonwith, to 
learn to refuse the evil and chowse the guid. This doesna 
aye come o' eatin' butter and honey, but whiles o' eatin' aise 
{ashes) and dirt. Noo, my pupil, here, mem, your son, has 
eaten that dirt and made that ch'ice. And I'll be caution 
{security) for him that he'll never mair return to wallow i' 
that mire. It's three weeks, mem, sin ae drop o' whisky 
has passed his mou'." 

" Whisky ! " exclaimed the mother. " Alec ! Is it 
possible ? " 

" Mem, mem ! It wad become ye better to fa' doon upo' 
yer knees and thank the God that's brocht him oot o' a fear- 
fu' pit and oot o' the miry clay and set his feet upo' a rock. 
But the rock's some sma' i' the fit-haud, and ae word micht 
jist caw him aff o' 't again. Gin ye fa' to upbraidin' o' 'm, 
ye may gar him clean forget's washin'." 



382 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 

But Mrs. Forbes was proud, and did not like interference 
between her and her son. Had she found things as bad as 
she had expected, she would have been humble. Now that 
her fears had abated, her natural pride had returned. 

" Take me to your own room. Alec," she said. 

" Ay, ay, mem. Tak' him wi' ye. But caw cannie, ye 
ken, or ye'll gie me a deevil o' a job wi' 'm." 

With a smile to Cupples, Alec led the way. 

He would have told his mother almost everything if she 
had been genial. As she was, he contented himself with a 
general confession that he had been behaving very badly, 
and would have grown ten times worse but for Mr. Cupples, 
who was the best friend that he had on earth. 

" Better than your mother. Alec ? " she asked, jealously. 

" I was no kith or kin of his, and yet he loved me," said 
Alec. 

" He ought to have behaved more like a gentleman to 
me." 

"Mother, you don't understand Mr. Cupples. He's a 
strange creature. He takes a pride in speaking the broadest 
Scotch, when he could talk to you in more languages than 
you ever heard of, if he liked." 

" I don't think he's fit company for you anyhow. We'll 
change the subject, if you please." 

So Alec was yet more annoyed, and the intercourse 
between mother and son was forced and uncomfortable. As 
soon as she retired to rest. Alec bounded up stairs. 

" Never mind my mother," he cried. " She's a good 
woman, but she's vexed with me, and lets it out on you." 

" Mind her ! " answered Mr. Cupples ; " she's a verra fine 
woman ; and she may say what she likes to me. She'll be a' 
richt the morn's mornin'. A woman wi' ae son's like a coo 
wi' ae horn, some kittle {tickHsh), ye ken. I cud see in her 
een haill coal-pits o' affection. She wad dee for ye, afore ye 
cud say — ' Dinna, mither.' " 

Next day they went to call on Professor Fraser. He 
received them kindly, and thanked Mrs. Forbes for her 
attentions to his niece. But he seemed oppressed and 
troubled. His niece was far from well, he said — had not 
left her room for some weeks, and could see no one. 

Mrs. Forbes associiited Alec's conduct with Kate's illness, 
but said nothing about her suspicions. After one day more, 
she returned home, reassured by but not satisfied with her 
visit. She felt that Alec had outgrown his former relation 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 383 

to her, and had a dim perception that her pride had pre- 
vented them from entering upon a yet closer relation. It is 
their own fault when mothers lose by the graivth of their 
children. 



CHAPTER LXXVIII. 



Meantime, Annie was passing through a strange experi- 
ence. It gave her a dreadful shock to know that such things 
were reported of her hero, her champion. They could not 
be true, else Chaos was come again. But when no exultant 
denial of them arrived from the pen of his mother, although 
she wrote as she had promised, then she understood by 
degrees that the youth had erred from the path, and had 
denied the Lord that bought him. She brooded and fancied 
and recoiled till the thought of him became so painful that 
she turned from it, rather than from him, with discomfort 
amounting almost to disgust. He had been to her the 
center of all that was noble and true. And he reveled in 
company of which she knew nothing except from far-off 
hints of unapproachable pollution ! Her idol all of silver 
hue was blackened with the breath of sulphur, and the 
world was overspread with the darkness which radiated 
from it. 

In this mood she went to the week-evening service at 
Mr. TurnbuU's chapel. There she sat listless, looking for 
no help, and caring for none of the hymns or prayers. At 
length Mr. TurnbuU began to read the story of the Prodigal 
Son. And during the reading her distress vanished like 
snow in the sunshine. For she took for her own the char- 
acter of the elder brother, prayed for forgiveness, and came 
away loving Alec Forbes more than ever she had loved him 
before. If God could love the Prodigal, might she not, 
ought she not to love him too ? — The deepest source of her 
misery, though she did not know that it was, had been the 
fading of her love to him. 

And as she walked home through the dark, the story 
grew into other comfort. A prodigal might see the face of 
God, then ! He was no grand monarch, but a homely 
father. He would receive her one day, and let her look in 
his face. 



384 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Nor did the trouble return any more. From that one 
moment, no feeling of repugnance ever mingled with her 
thought of Alec. For such a one as he could not help 
repenting, she said. He would be sure to rise and go back 
to his Father. She would not have found it hard to believe 
even, that, come early, or linger late, no swine-keeping son 
of the Father will be able to help repenting at last ; that no 
God-born soul will be able to go on trying to satisfy him- 
self with the husks that the swine eat, or to refrain from 
thinking of his Father's house, and wishing himself within 
its walls even in the meanest place ; or that such a wish is 
prelude to the best robe and the ring and the fatted calf, 
when the Father would spend himself in joyous obliteration 
of his son's past and its misery — having got him back his 
very own, and better than when he went, because more 
humble and more loving. 

When Mrs. Forbes came home, she entered into no detail, 
and was disinclined to talk about the matter at all, probably 
as much from dissatisfaction with herself as with her son. 
But Annie's heart blossomed into a quiet delight when she 
learned that the facts were not so bad as the reports, and 
that there was no doubt he would yet live them all down. 

The evil time was drawing nigh, ushered by gentler gales 
and snowdrops, when she must be turned out for the spring 
and summer. She would feel it more than ever, but less 
than if her aunt had not explained to her that she had a 
right to the shelter afforded her by the Bruces. 

Meanwhile arrived a letter from Mr. Cupples. 

" Dear Madam, — After all the efforts of Mr. Alec, aided 
by my best endeavors, but counteracted by the grief of 
knowing that his cousin. Miss Fraser, entertained a devout 
regard for a worthless class-fellow of his — after all our 
united efforts, Mr. Alec has not been able to pass more 
than two of his examinations. I am certain he would have 
done better but for the unhappiness to which I have 
referred, combined with the illness of Miss Fraser. In the 
course of a day or two, he will return to you, when, if you 
can succeed, as none but mothers can, in restoring him to 
some composure of mind, he will be perfectly able during 
the vacation to make up for lo.st time. 

" I am, dear madam, your obedient servant, 

" Cosmo Cupples." 

Angry with Kate, annoyed with her son, vexed with her- 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 385 

self, and indignant at the mediation of " that dirty, vulgar 
little man," Mrs. Forbes forgot her usual restraint, and 
throwing the letter across the table with the words, " Bad 
news, Annie," left the room. But the effect produced upon 
Annie by the contents of the letter was very different. 

Hitherto she had looked up to Alec as a great, strong 
creature. Her faith in him had been unquestioning and 
unbounded. Even his wrong-doings had not impressed her 
with any sense of his weakness. But now, rejected and dis- 
graced, his mother dissatisfied, his friend disappointed, and 
himself foiled in the battle of life, he had fallen upon evil 
days, and all the woman in Annie rose for his defense. In 
a moment they had changed places in the world of her 
moral imagination. The strong youth was weak and defense- 
less : the gentle girl opened the heart almost of mother- 
hood, to receive and shelter the worn, outraged man. A 
new tenderness, a new pity took possession of her. Indig- 
nant with Kate, angry with the professors, ready to kiss the 
hands of Mr. Cupples, all the tenderness of her tender 
nature gathered about her fallen hero, and she was more 
like his wife defending him from /ler mother. Now she 
could be something if not to him yet for him. He had 
been a "bright particular star" " beyond her sphere," but 
now the star lay in the grass, shorn of its beams, and she 
took it to her bosom. 

Two days passed. On the third evening in walked Alec, 
pale and trembling, evidently ill, too ill to be questioned. 
His breathing was short and checked by pain. 

" If I hadn't come at once, mother," he said, " I should 
have been laid up there. It's pleurisy, Mr. Cupples says," 

*' My poor boy ! " 

" Oh ! I don't care." 

" You've been working too hard, dear." 

Alec laughed bitterly. 

" I did work, mother ; but it doesn't matter. She's dead." 

" Who's dead ? " 

" Kate's dead. And I couldn't help it. I tried hard. 
And it's all my fault too. Cupples says she's better dead. 
But I might have saved her." 

He started from the sofa, and went pacing about the 
room, his face flushed and his breath coming faster and 
shorter. His mother got him to lie down again, and asked 
no more questions. The doctor came and bled him at the 
arm, and sent him to bed. 



386 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

When Annie saw him worn and ill, her heart swelled till 
she could hardly bear the aching of it. She would have 
been his slave, and she could do nothing. She must leave 
him instead. She went to her room, put on her bonnet and 
cloak, and was leaving the house when Mrs. Forbes caught 
sight of her. 

** Annie ! what do you mean, child ? You're not going to 
leave me ? " 

" I thought you wouldn't want me any more, ma'am." 

"You silly child !" 

Annie ran back to her room, thus compromising with a 
strong inclination to dance back to it. 

When Mr. Cupples and Alec had begun to place confi- 
dence in each other's self-denial, they cared less to dog 
each other. — Alec finding at the Natural Philosophy exami- 
nation that he had no chance, gathered his papers, and 
leaving the room, wandered away to his former refuge when 
miserable, that long desolate stretch of barren sand between 
the mouths of the two rivers. Here he wandered till long 
after the dusk had deepened into night. — A sound as of one 
singing came across the links, and drew nearer and nearer. 
He turned in the direction of it, for something in the tones 
reminded him of Kate ; and he almost believed the song 
was her nurse's ghostly ballad. But it ceased ; and after 
walking some distance inland, he turned again toward the 
sea. The song rose once more, but now between him and 
the sea. He ran toward it, falling repeatedly on the broken 
ground. By the time he reached the shore the singing had 
again ceased, but presently a wild cry came from seawards, 
where the waves far out were stili ebbing from the shore. 
He dashed along the glimmering sands, thinking he caught 
glimpses of something white, but there was no moon to 
give any certainty. As he advanced he became surer, but 
the sea was between. He rushed in. Deeper and deeper 
grew the water. He swam. But before he could reach the 
spot, for he had taken to the water too soon, with another 
cry the figure vanished, probably in one of those deep pits 
which abound along that shore. Still he held on, diving 
many times, but in vain. His vigor was not now what it 
had once been, and at length he was so exhausted, that 
when he came to himself, lying on his back on the dry 
sands, he had quite forgotten how he came there. He 
would have rushed again into the water, but he could 
scarcely move his limbs. He actually crawled part of the 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 387 

way across the links to the college. There he inquired if 
Miss Fraser was in the house. The maid assured him that 
she was in her own room, whereupon he went home. But 
he had scarcely gone before they discovered that her room 
was deserted, and she nowhere to be found. The shock of 
this news rendered it impossible for him to throw off the 
effects of his exposure. But he lingered on till Mr. Cupples 
compelled him to go home. Not even then, however, had 
her body been recovered. Alec was convinced that she 
had got into one of the quicksands ; but it was cast ashore 
a few days after his departure, and it was well that he did 
not see it. He did not learn the fact till many years after. 

It soon transpired that she had been out of her mind for 
some time. Indeed rumors of the sort had been afloat 
before. The proximate cause of her insanity was not cer- 
tainly known. Some suspicion of the worthlessness of her 
lover, some enlightenment as to his perfidy, or his unac- 
countable disappearance alone, may have occasioned this 
manifestation. But there is great reason to believe that she 
had a natural predisposition to it. And having never been 
taught to provide for her own mental sustenance, and so 
nourish a necessary independence, she had been too ready 
to squander the wealth of a rich and lovely nature upon an 
unworthy person, and the reaction had been madness and 
death. But any thing was better than marrying Beauchamp. 

One strange fact in the case was her inexplicable aversion 
to water — either a crude prevision of her coming fate, or, 
in the mysterious operations of delirious reasoning, the 
actual cause of it. The sea, visible from her window over 
the dreary flat of the links, may have fascinated her, and 
drawn her to her death. Such cases are not unknown. 

During the worst period of Alec's illness, he was ever 
wandering along that shore, or swimming in those deadly 
waters. Sometimes he had laid hold of the drowning girl 
and was struggling with her to the surface. Sometimes he 
was drawing her in an agony from the swallowing gullet of 
a quicksand, which held her fast, and swallowed at her all 
the time that he fought to rescue her from its jawless 
throat. 

Annie took her turn in the sick chamber, watching beside 
the half-unconscious lad, and listening anxiously to the 
murmurs that broke through the veil of his dreams. The 
feeling with which she had received the prodigal home into 
her heart, spread its roots deeper and wider, and bore at 



388 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

length a flower of a pale rosy flush — Annie's love revealed 
to herself — strong although pale, delicate although strong. 
It seemed to the girl she had loved him so always, only she 
had not thought about it. He had fought for her and 
endured for her at school ; he had saved her life from the 
greedy waters of the Glamour at the risk of his own : she 
would be the most ungrateful of girls if she did not love 
him. — And she did love him with a quiet intensity peculiar 
to her nature. 

Never had she happier hours than those in which it 
seemed that only the stars and the angels were awake 
beside herself. And if while watching him thus at night 
she grew sleepy, she would kneel down and pray to God to 
keep her awake, lest any harm should befall Alec. Then 
she would wonder if even the angels could do without 
sleep always, and fancy them lying about the warm fields of 
heaven between their own shadowy wings. She would won- 
der next if it would be safe for God to close his eyes for 
one minute — safe for the world, she meant ; and hope that, 
if ever he did close his eyes, that might not be the one 
moment when she could see his face. Then she would nod, 
and wake up with a start, flutter silently to her feet, and go 
and peep at the slumberer. Never was woman happier 
than Annie was during those blessed midnights and cold 
gray dawns. Sometimes, in those terrible hours after mid- 
night that belong neither to the night nor the day, but 
almost to the primeval darkness, the terrors of the darkness 
would seize upon her, and she would sit " inhabiting 
trembling." But the lightest movement of the sleeper 
would rouse her, and a glance at the place where he lay 
would dispel her fears. 



CHAPTER LXXIX. 



One night she heard a rustling amongst the bushes in 
the garden ; and the next moment a subdued voice began 
to sing : 

I waited for the Lord my God and patiently did bear ; 
At length to me he did incline, my voice and cry to hear. 
Pie took me from a fearful pit, and from the miry clay, 
And on a rock he set my feet, establishing my way. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 389 

The tune was that wildest of trustful wailings, — Mar- 
tyrs'. 

" I didna ken that ye cared aboot psalm-tunes, Mr. 
Cupples," murmured Alec. 

The singing went on and he grew restless. 

It was an eerie thing to go out, but she must stop the 
singing. If it was Mr. Cupples, she could have nothing to 
fear. Besides, a bad man would not sing that song. — As 
she opened the door, a soft spring wind blew upon her full 
of genial strength, as if it came straight from those dark 
blue clefts between the heavy clouds of the east. Away in 
the clear west, the half-moon was going down in dreaming 
stillness. The dark figure of a little man stood leaning 
against the house, singing gently. 

" Are you Mr. Cupples ? " she said. 

The man started, and answered, 

" Yes, my lass. And wha are ye ?" 

" I'm Annie Anderson. Alec's some disturbit wi' your 
singin'. Ye'll wauk him up, and he'll be a hantle the waur 
o' 't." 

" I winna sing anither stave. It was lanesome stan'in' 
upo' the ootside here, as gin I war ane o' the foolish 
virgins." 

" Eh ! wadna that be dreidfu' ? " responded Annie simply. 
Her words awoke an echo in Mr. Cupples's conscience, but 
he returned no reply. 

*' Hoo's Alec ? " he asked. 

" Some better. He's growin' better, though it's langsome 
like." 

" And do they lippen you to luik efter him, no ? " 

" Ay. What for no ? His mither wad be worn to deith 
gin she sat up ilka nicht. He canna bide ony body but her 
or me." 

" Weel, ye're a young cratur to hae sic a charge. — I wrote 
to Mrs. Forbes twa or three times, but I got but ae scrimpit 
answer. Sae as sune's I cud win awa', I cam' to spier efter 
him mysel'." 

" Whan did ye come, Mr. Cupples ? " 

" This nicht. Or I reckon it's last nicht noo. But or I 
wan ower this len'th, ye war a' i' yer beds, and I daurna 
disturb ye. Sae I sat doon in a summer-seat that I cam' 
upo', and smokit my pipe and luikit at the stars and the 
cluds. And I tried to sing a sang, but naething but psalms 
wad come, for the nicht's sae awfu' solemn, whan ye win 



39© ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

richt intil the mids' o' 't ! It jist distresses me that there's 
naebody up to worship God a' nicht in sic a nicht's this." 

" Nae doobt there's mony praisin' him that we canna see." 

" Ow, ay ; nae doobt. But aneath this lift, and breathin' 
the hopefu' air o' this divine darkness." 

Annie did not quite understand him, 

" I maun gang back to Alec," she said, " Ye'U come 
ower the morn, Mr. Cupples, and hear a' aboot him ? " 

" I will do that, my bairn. Hoo do they ca' ye — for I 
forget names driedfu' ? " 

" Annie Anderson." 

" Ay, ay ; Annie Anderson — I hae surely heard that name 
afore. — Weel, I winna forget you, whether I forget yer name 
or no." 

" But hae ye a bed ? " said the thoughtful girl, to whom 
the comfort of every one who came near her was an instinct- 
ive anxiety. 

'' Ow, ay. I hae a bed at the hoose o' a sma', jabberin', 
bitter-barkit cratur they ca' King Robert the Bruce." 

Annie knew that he must be occupying her room ; and 
was on the point of expressing a hope that he " wadna be 
disturbit wi' the rottans," when she saw that it would lead to 
new explanations and delays. 

"Good-night, Mr. Cupples," she said, holding out her 
hand. 

Mr. Cupples took it kindly, saying : 

"Are ye a niece, or a gran'-dochtero' thehoose, or anired 
servan', or what are ye ? — for ye're a wice-spoken lass and a 
bonnie." 

" I'm a servan' o' the hoose," said Annie. Then after a 
moment's hesitation, she added, "but no a hired ane." 

" Ye're worth hirin' onyhoo, hinnie (/loney) ; and they're 
weel aff that has ye i' the hoose in ony capawcity. An auld 
man like me may say that to yer face. Sae I'll awa' to my 
bed, and sing the lave o' my psalm as I gang." 

Mr. Cupples had a proclivity to garrets. He could not 
be comfortable if any person was over his head. He could 
breathe, he said, when he got next to the stars. For the 
rats he cared nothing, and slept as if the garret were a cellar 
in heaven. 

It had been a sore trial of his manhood to keep his vow 
after he knew that Alec was safe in the haven of a sick-bed. 
He knew that for him, if he were once happy again, there 
was little danger of a relapse ; for his physical nature had 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 39I 

not been greatly corrupted : there had not been time for 
that. He would rise from his sickness newborn. Hence it 
was the harder for Mr. Cupples, in his loneliness, to do battle 
with his deep-rooted desires. He would never drink as he 
had done, but might he not have just one tumbler ? — That 
one tumbler he did not take. And — rich reward ! — after 
two months the well of song within him began to gurgle 
and heave as if its waters would break forth once more in 
the desert ; the roseate hue returned to the sunsets ; and the 
spring came in with a very childhood of greenness. — The 
obfuscations of self-indulgence will soon vanish where 
they have not been sealed by crime and systematic selfish- 
ness. 

Another though inferior reward was, that he had money 
in his pocket : with this money he would go and see Alec 
Forbes. The amount being small, however, he would save 
it by walking. Hence it came that he arrived late and 
weary. Entering the first shop he came to, he inquired after 
a cheap lodging. For he said to himself that the humblest 
inn was beyond his means ; though probably his reason for 
avoiding such a shelter was the same as made him ask Alec 
to throw the bottle out of the garret. Robert Bruce heard 
this question, and, regarding him keenly from under his eye- 
brows, debated within himself whether the applicant was re- 
spectable — that is, whether he could pay, and would bring 
upon the house no discredit by the harborage. The signs 
of such a man as Cupples were inscrutable to Bruce ; there- 
fore his answer hung fire. 

" Are ye deif, man ? " said Mr. Cupples ; " or are ye feared 
to tyne a chance by gien' a fair answer to a fair question ?" 

The arrow went too near the mark not to irritate Bruce. 

" Gang yer wa's," said he. " We dinna want tramps i' 
this toon." 

" Weel, I am a tramp, nae doobt," returned Cupples ; " for 
I hae come ilka bit o' the road upo' my ain fit ; but I hae 
read in history o' twa or three tramps that war respectable 
fowk for a' that. Ye winna gt'e ony thing i' this chop,, I 
doobt — nae even information. Will ye se// me an unce of 
pigtail ? " 

" Ow, ay. I'll sell't gin ye'll buy't." 

" There's the bawbees," said Cupples, laying the orthodox 
pence on the counter. "■ And noo will ye tell me whaur I 
can get a respectable, dacent place to lie doon in ? I'll want 
it for a week, at ony rate." 



39? ALEC FORBES OF HOWCLEN. 

Before he had finished the question, the door behind the 
counter had opened, and young Bruce had entered. Mr. 
Cupples knew him well enough by sight as a last year's 
bejan. 

" How are you ? " he said. " I know you, though I don't 
know your name." 

" My name's Robert Bruce, Mr. Cupples." 

"A fine name — Robert Bruce," he replied. 

The youth turned to his father, and said — 

" This gentleman is the librarian of our college, father." 

Bruce took his hat off his head, and set it on the counter. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," he said. " I'm terrible short- 
sichtit in can'le-licht." 

" I'm used to bein' mista'en'," answered Cupples simply, 
perceiving that he had got hold of a character. " Mak' nae 
apologies, I beg ye, but answer my question." 

"Weel, sir, to tell the trowth, seein' ye're a gentleman, 
we hae a room oorsel's. But it's a garret-room, and may- 
be—" 

" Then I'll hae't, whatever it be, gin ye dinna want ower 
muckle for't." 

'* Weel, ye see, sir, your college is a great expense to 
heumble fowk like oorsel's, and we hae to mak' it up the best 
way that we can." 

" Nae doot Hoo muckle do ye want ? " 

"Wad ye think five shillin's ower muckle ?" 

" 'Deed wad I." 

"Weel, we'll say three than — to jou, sir." 

" I wimia gie ye mair nor half-a-croon." 

" Hoot, sir ! It's ower little." 

"Well, I'll look further," said Mr. Cupples, putting on 
English, and moving to the door. 

" Na, sir ; ye'll do nae sic thing. Do ye think I wad lat 
the leebrarian o' my son's college gang oot at my door this 
time o' nicht, to luik for a bed till himsel' ? Ye's jist hae't 
at yer ain price, and welcome. Ye'll hae yer tay and sugar 
and bitties o' cheese frae me, ye ken ? " 

" Of course — of course. And if you could get me some 
tea at once, I should be obliged to you." 

" Mother," cried Bruce through the house-door, and held 
a momentary whispering with the partner of his throne. 

" So your name's Bruce, is it ? " resumed Cupples, as the 
other returned to the counter. 

"Robert Bruce, sir, at your service," 



I 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 393 

" It's a gran* name,'* said Cupples with empiiasis. 

"'Deed is't, and I hae a richt to bier't." 

" Ye'U be a descendant, nae doot, o' the Yerl o' Carrick ? " 
said Cupples, guessing at his weakness. 

" O' the king, sir. Fowk may think little o' me ; but I 
come o' him that freed Scotland. Gin it hadna been 
for Bannockburn, sir, whaur wad Scotland hae been the 
day?" 

" Nearhan' civileezed unner the fine influences o' the 
English, wi' their cultivation and their mainners, and, aboon 
a', their gran' Edwards and Hairries." 

" I dinna richtly unnerstan' ye, sir," said Bruce. " Ye 
hae heard hoo the king clave the skull o' Sir Henry dee 
Bohunn — haena ye, sir ? " 

" Ow, ay. But it was a pity it wasna the ither gait. Lat 
me see the way to my room, for I want to wash my ban's 
and face. They're jist barkit wi' stour [dusf)." 

Bruce hesitated whether to show Mr. Cupples out or in. 
His blue blood boiled at this insult to his great progenitor. 
But a half-crown would cover a greater wrong than that 
even, and he obeyed. Cupples followed him up stairs, mur- 
muring to himself : 

" Shades o' Wallace and Bruce ! forgie me. But to see 
sma' craters cock their noses and their tails as gin they had 
inherited the michty deeds as weel as the names o' their for- 
bears, jist scunners me, and turns my blude into the gall o' 
bitterness — and that's scripter for't." 

After further consultation, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce came to 
the conclusion that it might be politic, for Robert's sake, to 
treat the librarian with consideration. Consequently Mrs. 
Bruce invited him to go down to his tea in f//c room. De- 
scending before it was quite ready, he looked about him. 
The only thing that attracted his attention was a handsomely 
bound Bible. This he took up, thinking to get some amuse- 
ment from the births of the illustrious Bruces ; but theonly 
inscription he could find, besides the name of John Cotvie, 
was the following in pencil : 

** Super Davidis Psalmuvi tertium vicesimum, syngrapham 
pecuniariatn centum solidos valentem, quee, me mortuo, a Annie 
Anderson, mi hi dilecta, sit, posui." 

Then came some figures, and then the date, with the 
initials /. C. 

Hence it was that Mr. Cupples thought he had heard the 
name of Annie Anderson before. 



394 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" It's a gran' Bible this, gudewife," he said as Mrs. Bruce 
entered. 

" Ay is't. It belanged to cor pairis-minister." 

Nothing more passed, for Mr. Cupples was hungry. 

After a long sleep in the morning, he called upon Mrs. 
Forbes, and was kindly received ; but it was a great disap- 
pointment to him to find that he could not see Alec. As he 
was in the country, however, he resolved to make the best of 
it, and enjoy himself for a week. For his asserted dislike to 
the country, though genuine at the time, was any thing but 
natural to him. So every day he climbed to the top of one 
or other of the hills which inclosed the valley, and was re- 
warded with fresh vigor and renewed joy. He had not 
learned to read Wordsworth ; yet not a wind blew through a 
broom-bush, but it blew a joy from it into his heart. He too 
was a prodigal returned at least into the vestibule of his Father's 
house. And the Father sent the servants out there to minis- 
ter to him ; and Nature, the housekeeper, put the robe of 
health upon him, and gave him new shoes of strength, and a 
ring, though not the Father's white stone. The delights of 
those spring days were endless to him whose own nature was 
budding with new life. Familiar with all the cottage ways, 
he would drop into any hoosie he came near about his dinner- 
time, and asking for di piece (of oat-cake) and a coquie o' milk^ 
would make his dinner off those content, and leave a trifle 
behind him in acknowledgment. But he would always con- 
trive that as the gloamin' began to fall, he should be near 
Howglen, that he might inquire after his friend. And Mrs. 
Forbes began to understand him better. — Before the week 
was over, there was not a man or woman about Howglen 
whom he did not know even by name ; for to his surprise, 
even his forgetfulness was fast vanishing in the menstruum 
of the earth-spirit, the world's breath blown over the corn. 
In particular he had made the acquaintance of James Dow, 
with whose knowing simplicity he was greatly taken. 

On the last day but one of his intended stay, as he went 
to make his daily inquiry, he dropped in to see James Dow 
in the " harled hypocrite." James had come in from his 
work, and was sitting alone on a bench by the table, in a 
corner of the earth-floored kitchen. The great pot, lidless, 
and full of magnificent potatoes, was hanging above the fire, 
that its contents might be quite dry for supper. Through 
the little window, a foot and a half square, Cupples could see 
the remains of t hawthorn hedge, a hundred years old — a 



I 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 395 

hedge no longer, but a row of knobby, gnarled trees, full of 
knees and elbows ; and through the trees the remains of an 
orange-colored sunset. — It was not a beautiful country, as I 
have said before ; but the spring was beautiful, and the 
heavens were always beautiful ; and, like the plainest woman's 
face, the country itself, in its best moods, had no end of 
beauty. 

** Hoo are ye, Jeames Doo ?" 

** Fine, I thank ye, sir," said James rising. 

" I wad raither sit doon mysel', nor gar you stan' up efter 
yer day's work, Jeames." 

" Ow ! I dinna warstle mysel' to the deith a'thegither." 

But James, who was not a healthy man, was often in the 
wet field when another would have been in bed, and right- 
eously in bed. He had a strong feeling of the worthlessness 
of man's life in comparison with the work he has to do, even 
if that work be only the spreading of a fother of dung. His 
mistress could not keep him from his work. 

Mr. Cupples sat down, and James resumed his seat. 

" Ye're awfu' dubby {miry) about the feet, Mr. Cupples. 
Jist gie me aff yer shune, and I'll gie them a scrape and a 
lick wi' the blackin'-brush," said James, again rising. 

" Deil tak' me gin I do ony sic thing ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Cupples. "My shune'll do weel eneuch." 

" Whaur got ye a' that dub, sir ? The roads is middlin' 
the day." 

" I dinna aye stick to the roads, Jeames. I wan until a 
bog first, and syne intil some plooed Ian' that was a' lumps 
o' clay shinin' green i' the sun. Sae it's nae wonner gin I be 
some clortit. Will ye gie me a pitawta, Jeames, in place o' 
the blackin-brush ?" 

" Ay, twenty. But winna ye bide till Mysie comes in, 
and hae a drappy milk wi' them ? They're fine pitawtas the 
year." 

" Na, na, I haena time." 

" Weel, jist dip into the pot, and help yersel', sir ; and I'll 
luik for a grainy o' saut." 

" Hoo's yer mistress, Jeames ? A fine woman that ! " 

" Nae that ill, but some forfochten wi' norsin' Mr. Alec. 
Eh ! sir, that's a fine lad, gin he wad only haud steady." 

" I'm thinkin' he winna gang far wrang again. He's got- 
ten the arles {earnest) and he winna want the wages. — That's 
a fine lassie that's bidin' wi' them — Annie Anderson they ca' 
her." 



39^ ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

'< 'Deed is she, sir. I kent her father afore her day, and I 
hae kent her sin' ever she had a day. She's ane o' the finest 
bairns ever was seen." 

" Is she ony relation to the mistress ? " 

" Ow, na. Nae mair relation nor 'at a' gude fowk's sib." 

And Dow told Cupples the girl's story, including the 
arrangement made with Bruce in which he had had a princi- 
pal part. 

" Annie Anderson — I canna mak' oot whaur I hae heard 
her name afore." 

'* Ye're bidin' at Bruce's, arena ye, Mr. Cupples?" 

** Ay. That is, I'm sleepin' there, and payin' for't." 

** Weel, I hae little doobt ye hae heard it there." 

" I dinna think it. But maybe. — What kin' o' chiel' 's 
Bruce?" 

" He's terrible greedy." 

" A moudiwarp {tjiole) wi' ae ee wad see that afore he had 
winkit twice." 

" 'Deed micht he." 

" Is he honest ? " 

** That's hard to answer. But I s' gar him be honest wi* 
regaird to her, gin I can." 

" Wad he chait ? " 

" Ay. Na. He wadna chait muckle. I wadna turn my 
back till him, though, ohn keekit ower my shouther to baud 
him sicker. He wadna min' doin' ill that gude micht come." 

" Ay, ay ; I ken him. — And the /// wad be whatever hurtit 
anither man, and the gude whatever furthered himsel' ? " said 
Mr. Cupples as he dipped the last morsel of his third potato 
in the salt which he held in the palm of his left hand. 

" Ye hae said it, Mr. Cupples." 

And therewith, Mr. Cupples bade James good-night, and 
went to tJie hoose. 

There he heard the happy news that Alec insisted on 
seeing him. Against her will, Mrs. Forbes had given in, as 
the better alternative to vexing him. The result of the inter- 
view was, that Cupples sat up with him that night, and Mrs, 
Forbes and Annie both slept. In the morning he found a 
bed ready for him, to which he reluctantly betook himself 
and slept for a c'ouple of hours. The end of it was, that he 
did not go back to Mr. Bruce's except to pay his bill. Nor 
did he leave Howglen for many weeks. 

At length one lovely morning, when the green corn lay 
soaking in the yellow sunlight, and the sky rose above the 



I 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 397 

earth deep and pure and tender like the thought of God 
about it, Alec became suddenly aware that life was good, and 
the world beautiful. He tried to raise himself, but failed. 
Cupples was by his side in a moment. Alec held out his 
hand with his old smile so long disused. Cupples propped 
him up with pillows, and opened the window that the warm 
waves of the air might break into the cave where he had lain 
so long deaf to its noises and insensible to its influences. 
The tide flowed into his chamber like Pactolus, all golden 
with sunbeams. He lay with his hands before him and his 
eyes closed, looking so happy that Cupples gazed with rev- 
erent delight, for he thought he was praying. But he was 
only blessed. So easily can God make a man happy ! The 
past had dropped from him like a wild but weary and sordid 
dream. He was reborn, a new child, in a new bright world, 
with a glowing summer to revel in. One of God's lyric proph- 
ets, the larks, was within earshot, pouring down a vocal 
summer of jubilant melody. The lark thought nobody was 
listening but his wife ; but God heard in heaven, and the 
young prodigal heard on the earth. He would be a good 
child henceforth, for one bunch of sun-rays was enough to be 
happy upon. His mother entered. She saw the beauty upon 
her boy's worn countenance ; she saw the noble watching 
love on that of his friend ; her own filled with light, and she 
stood transfixed and silent. Annie entered, gazed for a 
moment, fled to her own room, and burst into adoring tears. 
— For she had seen the face of God, and that face was 
Love — love like the human, only deeper, deeper — tenderer, 
lovelier, stronger. She could not recall what she had seen, 
or how she had known it ; but the conviction remained that 
she had seen His face, and that it was infinitely beautiful. 

" He has been wi' me a' the time, my God ! He gied rne 
my father, and sent Broonie to tak' care o' me, and Dooie, 
and Thomas Crann, and Mrs.Forbes, and Alec. And He sent 
the cat whan I gaed till Him aboot the rottans. An' He's 
been wi' me I kenna hoo lang, and He's wi' me noo. And I 
hae seen His face, and I'll see His face again. And I'll try 
sair to be a gude bairn. Eh me ! It's jist wonnerfu' ! And 
God's jist .... naething but God Himsel'." 



CHAPTER LXXX. 

Although Mr, Cupples had been educated for the 
Church, and was indeed at this present time a licentiate, he 
had given up all thought of pursuing what had been his 
mother's ambition rather than his own choice. But his 
thoughts had not ceased to run in some of the old grooves, 
although a certain skepticism would sometimes set him ex- 
amining those grooves to find out whether they had been 
made by the wheels of the gospel-chariot, or by those of 
Juggernaut in the disguise of a Hebrew high priest, drawn 
by a shouting Christian people. Indeed, as soon as he 
ceased to go to church, which was soon after ceasing to 
regard the priesthood as his future profession, he began to 
look at many things from points of view not exclusively 
ecclesiastical. So that, although he did go to church at 
Glamerton for several Sundays, the day arriving when he 
could not face it again, he did not scruple to set off for the 
hills. Coming home with a great grand purple foxglove in 
his hand, he met some of the missionars returning from 
their chapel, and amongst the rest Robert Bruce, who 
stopped and spoke. 

" I'm surprised to see ye carryin' that thing o' the Lord's 
day, Mr. Cupples. Fowk'U think ill o' ye." 

" Well, ye see, Mr. Bruce, it angert me sae to see the ill- 
faured thing positeevely growin' there upo' the Lord's day, 
that I pu'd it up 'maist by the reet. To think o' a weyd 
like that prankin' itsel' oot in its purple and its spots upo' 
the Sawbath day. It canna kent what it's aboot. I'm only 
feared I left eneuch o' 't to be up again afore lang." 

" 1 doobt, Mr. Cupples, ye haena come unner the pooer 
o' grace yet." 

" A pour o' creysh {grease) ! Na, thank ye. I dinna 
want to come unner a pour o' creysh. It wad blaud me 
a'thegither. Is that the gait ye baptize i' your conventi- 
cle ? " 

" There's nane sae deif's them 'at winna hear, Mr. 
Cupples," said Bruce. " I mean — ye're no convertit yet." 

" Na, I'm no convertit. 'Deed no. I wadna like to be 
convertit. What wad ye convert me till ? A swine ? Or 
a sma' peddlin' crater that tak's a bawbee mair for rowin 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 399 

up the pigtail in a foul paper ? Ca' ye that conversion ? 
I'll bide as I am." 

" It's waste o' precious time speikin'to you, Mr. Cupples," 
returned Bruce, moving off with a red face. 

" 'Deed is't," retorted Cupples ; " and I houp ye winna 
forget the fac'. It's o' consequens to me." 

But he had quite another word on the same subject for 
Annie Anderson, whom he overtook on her way to Howglen 
— she likewise returning from the mission kirk. 

" Isna that a bonnie ring o' deid man's bells, Annie ? " said 
he, holding out the foxglove, and calling it by its name in 
that part of the country. 

" Ay is't. But that was ower muckle a flooer to tak' to 
the kirk wi' ye. Ye wad gar the fowk lauch." 

" What's the richt flooer to tak' to the kirk, Annie ?" 

" Ow ! sober floories that smell of the yird [earth), 
like." 

" Ay ! ay ! Sic like's what ? " asked Cupples, for he had 
found in Annie a poetic nature that delighted him. 

" Ow ! sic likes thyme and southren-wood, and may be a 
bittie o' mignonnette." 

" Ay ! ay ! And sae the cowmon custom abuses you, 
young, bonnie lammies o' the flock. Wadna ye tak' the 
rose o' Sharon itsel', nor the fire-reid lilies that made the 
text for the Saviour's sermon ? Ow ! na. Ye maun be 
sober, wi' flooers bonnie eneuch, but smellin o' the kirkyard 
raither nor the blue lift, which same's the sapphire throne 
o' Him that sat thereon." 

" Weel, but allooin* that, ye sudna gar fowk lauch, wi' a 
bonnie flooer, but ridickleous for the size o' 't, 'cep' ye gie 
't room. A kirk's ower little for't." 

" Ye're richt there, my dawtie. And I haena been to the 
kirk ava'. I hae been to the hills." 

" And what got ye there ? " 

" I got this upo' the road hame." 

" But what got ye there ? " 

" Weel, I got the blue lift." 

" And what was that to ye ? " 

" It said to me that I was a foolish man to care aboot the 
claiks and the strifes o' the warl' ; for a' was quaiet aboon, 
whatever stramash they micht be makin' doon here i' the 
cellars o' the speeritual creation." 

Annie was silent : while she did not quite understand 
him, she had a dim preception of a grand meaning in what 



400 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

he said. The fact was that Annie was the greater of the 
two in esse ; Cupples the greater in posse. His imagination 
let him see things far beyond what he could for a long time 
attain unto. 

*' But what got ye at the kirk, Annie ? " 

" Weel, I canna say I got verra muckle the day. Mr. 
TurnbuU's text was, ' Thou, Lord, art merciful, for thou 
renderest to every man according to his works.' " 

" Ye micht hae gotten a hantel oot o' that." 

" Ay. But ye see, he said the Lord was merciful to ither 
fowk when he rendert the wicked the punishment due to 
them. And I cudna richtly feel i' myhert that I cud praise 
the Lord for that mercy." 

" I dinna wonner, my bairn." 

" But eh ! Mr. Cupples, Mr. TurnbuU's no like that aye. 
He's bonnie upo' the Gospel news. I wiss ye wad gang 
and hear him the nicht. I canna gang, cause Mrs. Forbes 
is gaun oot." 

" I'll gang and hear him, to please you, my lassie ; for, as 
I said, I haena been to the kirk the day." 

" But do ye think it's richt to brak the Sawbath, Mr. 
Cupples ?" 

" Ay and no." 

" I dinna unnerstan' ye." 

" What the clergy ca' breakin' the Sawbath's no breakin' 
o' 't. I'll tell ye what seems to me the differ atween the 
like o' your Mr. Turnbull and the Pharisees — and it's a 
great differ. They band heavy burdens and grievous to be 
borne, and laid them upo' men's shouthers, but wadna touch 
sic like to carry them wi' ane o' their fingers : Mr. Turnbull 
and the like of him beirs their share. But the burden's 
nanethe less a heavy ane and grievous to be borne." 

" But the burden's no that grievous to me, Mr. Cup- 
ples." 

" There's no sayin' what you women fowk will not tak' a 
pleesur' in bearin' ; but the passage refers expressly to the 
men's shouthers. And faith mine will not endure to be 
loadent wi' ither fowks fykes {trifles^. And sae come 
alang, deid man's bells." 

Annie thought all this rather dreadful, but she was not 
shocked as a Christian who lives by the clergy and their 
traditions, instead of by the fresh Spirit of God, would have 
been. For she could not help seeing that there was truth 
in it. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 40I 

But although Cupples could say much to set Annie think- 
ing, and although she did find enlightenment at last from 
pondering over his words, yet she could have told him far 
deeper things than he had yet suspected to exist. For she 
knew that the goal of all life is the face of God. Perhaps 
she had to learn a yet higher lesson : that our one free home 
is the Heart, the eternal lovely Will of God, than that which 
should fail, it would be better that we and all the worlds 
should go out in blackness. But this Will is our Salvation, 
Because He liveth we shall live also. 

Mr. Cupples found in the missionar kirk a certain fervor 
which pleased him. For Mr. TurnbuU, finding that his 
appeals to the ungodly were now of little avail to attract 
listeners of the class, had betaken himself to the building 
up of the body of Christ, dwelling in particular upon the 
love of the brethren. But how some of them were to be 
loved, except with the love of compassionate indignation, 
even his most rapt listener, Thomas Crann, could not have 
supposed himself capable of explaining. As I said, how- 
ever, Mr. Cupples found the sermon in some degree im- 
pressive, and was attentive. As he was walking away, 
questioning with himself, he heard a voice in the air above 
him. It came from the lips of Thomas Crann, who, although 
stooping from asthma and rheumatism, still rose nearly a 
foot above the head of Mr. Cupples. 

" I was glaid to see ye at oor kirk, sir," said Thomas. 

" What for that ? " returned the librarian, who always 
repelled first approaches, in which he was only like Thomas 
himself, and many other worthy people, both Scotch and 
English. 

" A stranger sud aye be welcomed to ony body's 
hoose." 

*' I didna ken it was your hoose." 

" Ow na. It's no my hoose. It's the Lord's hoose. But 
a smile f rae the servan'-lass that opens the door's something 
till a man that gangs to ony hoose for the first time, ye 
ken," returned Thomas, who, like many men of rough 
address, was instantly put upon his good behavior by the 
exhibition of like roughness in another. 

This answer disarmed Cupples. He looked up into 
Thomas's face, and saw first a massive chin ; then a firmly 
closed mouth ; then a nose, straight as a Greek's, but bulky 
and of a rough texture ; then two keen gray eyes, and lastly 
a big square forehead supported by the two pedestals of 



402 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

high cheek bones — the whole looking as if it had been hewn 
out of his professional granite, or rather as if the look of 
the granite had passed into the face that was so constantly 
bent over it fashioning the stubborn substance to the yet 
more stubborn human will. And Cupples not only liked 
the face, but felt that he was in the presence of one of the 
higher natures of the world — made to command, or rather, 
which is far better, to influence. Before he had time to 
reply, however, Thomas resumed : 

" Ye hae had a heap o' tribble, I doobt, wi' that laddie, 
Alec Forbes." 

** Naething mair nor was nateral," answered Cupples. 

" He's a fine crater, though. I ken that weel. Is he 
come back, do you think ? " 

" What do you mean ? He's lyin' in's bed, quaiet eneuch, 
puir fallow ! " 

" Is he come back to the fold ? " 

" Nae to the missionars, I'm thinkin'." 

" Dinna anger me. Ye're nae sae ignorant as ye wad 
pass for. Ye ken weel eneuch what I mean. What care I 
for the missionars mair nor ony ither o' the Lord's fowk, 
*cept that they're mair like his fowk nor ony ither that I hae 
seen ? " 

" Sic like's Robert Bruce, for a sample." 

Thomas stopped as if he had struck against a stone wall, 
and went back on his track. 

** What I want to ken is whether Alec unnerstans yet that 
the prodigal's aye ill aff ; and — " 

*' Na," interrupted Cupples. " He's never been cawed to 
the swine yet. Nor he sudna be, sae lang's I had a sax- 
pence to halve wi' him." 

" Ye're no richt, frien', there. The suner a prodigal comes 
to the swine the better ! " 

" Ay ; that's what you richteous elder brithers think. I 
ken that weel eneuch." 

" Mr. Cupples, I'm nae elder brither i' that sense. God 
kens I wad gang oot to lat him in." 

" What ken ye aboot him, gin it be a fair question ? " 

" I hae kent him, sir, sin' he was a bairn. I periled his 
life — no my ain — to gar him do his duty. I trust in God it 
wad hae been easier for me to hae periled my ain. Sae ye 
see I do ken aboot him." 

'* Weel," said Mr Cupples, to whom the nature of Thomas 
had begun to open itself, " I alloo that, Whaur do ye bide ? 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN, 403 

What's yer name ? I'll come and see ye the morn's nicht, 
gin ye'll lat me." 

" My name's Thomas Crann. I'm a stonemason. Speir 
at Robert Bruce's chop, and they'll direc' ye to whaur I bide. 
Ye may come the morn's nicht, and welcome. Can ye sup 
parritch ? " 

" Ay, weel that." 

" My Jean's an extrornar han' at parritch. I only houp 
puir Esau had half as guid for's birthricht, Ye'll hae a 
drappy wi' me ? " 

" Wi' a' my hert," answered Cupples. 

And here their ways diverged. 

When he reached home, he asked Annie about Thomas. 
Annie spoke of him in the highest terms, adding, 

" I'm glad ye like him, Mr. Cupples." 

*' I dinna think, wi' sic an opingon o' 'm, it can maitter 
muckle to you whether I like him or no," returned Mr. Cup- 
ples, looking at her quizzically. 

" Na, nae muckle as regards him. But it says weel for 
you, ye ken, Mr. Cupples," replied Annie archly. 

Mr. Cupples laughed good-humoredly, and said, 

"Weel, I s' gang and see him the morn's nicht, ony gait." 

And so he did. And the porridge and the milk were 
both good. 

" This is heumble fare, Mr. Cupples," said Thomas. 

"It maitters little compairateevely what a man lives 
upo'," said Cupples sententiously, " sae it be first-rate o' 'ts 
ain kin'. And this is first-rate." 

" Tak' a drappy mair, sir." 

" Na, nae mair, I thank ye." 

" They'll be left, gin ye dinna." 

" Weel, sen' them ower to Mr. Bruce," said Cupples, with 
a sly wink. " 1 s' warran' he'll coup them ower afore they 
sud be wastit. He canna bide waste." 

" Weel, that's a vertue. The Saviour himsel' garred them 
gaither up the fragments." 

" Nae doobt. But I'm feared Bruce wad hae coontit the 
waste by hoo mony o' the baskets gaed by his door. I'm 
surprised at ye, Mr. Crann, tryin' to defen' sic ameeserable 
crater, jist 'cause he gangs to yer kirk." 

" Weel, he is a meeserable cratur, and I canna bide him. 
He's jist a Jonah in oor ship, an Achan in oor camp. But 
I sudna speyk sae to ane that's no a member." 

" ISfever ye min', I'm auld eneuch to hae learned to haud 



404 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

my tongue. But we'll turn till a better subjec*. Jist tell 
me hoc ye made Alec peril's life for conscience' sake. Ye 
dinna burn fowk here for nae freely haudin' by the shorter 
Carritchis, do ye ? " 

And hereupon followed the story of the flood. 

Both these men, notwithstanding the defiance they bore 
on their shields, were of the most friendly and communica- 
tive disposition. So soon as they saw that a neighbor was 
trustworthy, they trusted him. Hence it is not marvelous 
that communication should have been mutual. Cupples 
told Thomas in return how he had come to know Alec, and 
what compact had arisen between them. Thomas, as soon 
as he understood Mr. Cupples's sacrifice, caught the deli- 
cate hand in his granite grasp — like that with which the 
steel anvil and the stone block held Arthur's .sword — and 
said solemnly, 

" Ye hae done a great deed, which winna gang wantin' its 
reward. It canna hae merit, but it maun be pleesant in His 
sicht. Ye hae baith conquered sin i' yersel', and ye hae 
turned the sinner frae the error o' his ways." 

" Hoots ! " interrupted Cupples, " do ye think I was gaun 
to lat the laddie gang reid-wud to the deevil, ohn stud in 
afore 'm and cried Hooly ! " 

After this the two were friends, and met often. Cupples 
went to the missionars again and again, and they generally 
walked away together. 

" What gart ye turn frae the kirk o' yer fathers, and tak' 
to a conventicle like that, Thomas ? " asked Mr. Cupples one 
evening. 

" Ye hae been to them baith, and I wad hae thocht ye 
wad hae kent better nor to speir sic a question," answered 
Thomas. 

" Ay, ay. But what gart ye think o' 't first ? " 

" Weel, I'll tell ye the haill story. Whan I was a callan, 
I took the play to mysel' for a week, or maybe twa, and 
gaed wi' a frien' i' the same trade's mysel', to see what was 
to be seen alang a screed o' the sea-coast, frae toon to toon. 
My compaingon wasna that gude at the traivelin'; and upo' 
the Setterday nicht, there we war in apublic-hoose, and him 
no able to gang ae fit further, for sair heels and taes. Sae 
we bude to bide still ower the Sawbath, though we wad fain 
hae been oot o' the toon afore the kirk began. But seein' 
that we cudna, I thocht it wad be but dacent to gang to the 
kirk like ither fowk, and sae I made mysel' as snod as I 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 40$ 

could, and gaed oot. And afore I had gane mony yairds, I 
cam upo' fowk gaein' to the kirk. And sae I loot the stream 
carry me alang wi' 't, and gaed in and sat doon, though the 
place wasna exackly like a kirk a'thegither. But the minis- 
ter had a gift o' prayer and o' preaching as weel ; and the 
fowk a' sang as gin't was pairt o' their business to praise 
God, for fear he wad tak' it frae them and gie't to the stanes. 
Whan I cam' oot, and was gaein' quaietly back to the public, 
there cam' first ae sober-luikin man up to me, and he wad 
hae me hame to my denner ; and syne their cam' an auld 
man, and efter that a man that luikit like a sutor and ane 
and a' o' them wad hae me hame to my denner wi' them — 
for no airthly rizzon but that I was a stranger. But ye see 
I cudna gang 'cause my frien' was waitin' for his till I gaed 
back. Efter denner, I speirt at the landlady gin she cud 
tell me what they ca'd themsel's, the fowk 'at gathered i' 
that pairt o' the toon ; and says she, ' I dinna ken what they 
ca' them — they're nae customers o' mine — but I jist ken 
this, they're hard-workin' fowk, kind to ane anither. A' body 
trusts their word. Gif ony o' them be sick, the rest luiks 
efter them till they're better ; and gin ony o' them happens 
to gang the wrang gait, there's aye three or four o' them 
aboot him, till they get him set richt again.' ' Weel,' says I, 
* I dinna care what they ca' them ; but gin ever I jine ony 
kirk, that s' be the kirk.' Sae, efter that, whan ance I had 
gotten a sure houp, a rael grun' for believin' that I was ane 
o' the called and chosen, I jist jined mysel' to them that sud 
be like them — for they ca'd them a' Missionars." 

" Is that lang sin syne ? " 

" Ay, it's twenty year noo." 

" I thocht as muckle. I doobt they hae fared like maist 
o' the new fashions." 

" Hoo that ? " 

" Grown some auld themsel's. There's a feow signs o' 
decrepitude, no to say degeneracy, amo' ye, isna there ?" 

" I maun alloc that. At the first, things has a kin' o' a 
swing that carries them on. But the sons an' the dochters 
dinna care sae muckle aboot them as the fathers and 
mithers. Maybe they haena come throw the hards like them." 

" And syne there'll be ane or twa cruppen in like that 
chosen vessel o' grace they ca' Robert Bruce. I'm sure he's 
eneuch to ruin ye i' the sicht o' the warl', hooever you and 
he may fare at heid-quarters, bein' a' called and chosen 
thegither." 



406 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" For God's sake, dinna think that sic as him gies ony 
token o' being ane o' the elec'." 

" Hoo wan he in than ? They say ye're unco' particular. 
The Elec' sud ken an elec'." 

" It's the siller, man, that blin's the een o' them that hae 
to sit in jeedgment upo' the applicants. The crater pro- 
fessed, and they war jist ower willin' to believe him." 

" Weel, gin that be the case, I dinna see that ye're sae 
far aheid o' fowk that disna mak' sae mony pretensions." 

" Indeed, Mr. Cupples, I fully doobt that the displeesur 
o' the Almichty is restin' upo' oor kirk ; and Mr. Turnbull, 
honest man, appears to feel the wacht o' 't. We hae mair 
than ae instance i' the Scriptur o' a haill community sufferin' 
for the sin o' ane." 

" Do ye ken ony instance o' a gude man no bein' able to 
win in to your set ? " 

" Ay, ane, I think. There was a fule body that wantit 
sair to sit doon wi' 's. But what cud we do ? We cudna 
ken whether he had savin' grace or no, for the body cudna 
speyk that a body cud unnerstan' him ! " 

" And ye didna lat him sit doon wi' ye ? " 

" Na. Hoo cud we ?" 

" The Lord didna dee for him, did he ? " 

"We cudna tell." 

" And what did the puir cratur do ? " 

" He grat " {wept). 

" And hoo cam' ye to see that ye wad hae been a' the bet- 
ter o' a wee mair pooer to read the heart ? " 

" Whan the cratur was deein', the string o' his tongue, 
whether that string lay in his mou', or in his brain, was 
lousened, and he spak' plain, and he praised God." 

" Weel, I can not see that your plan, haudin' oot innocents 
that lo'e Him, and lattin' in thieves that wad steal oot o' the 
Lord's ain bag — gie them a chance — can be an impruvment 
upo' the auld fashion o' settin' a man to judge himsel', and 
tak' the wyte o' the jeedgment upo' 's ain shouthers." 



CHAPTER LXXXI. 

Annie began to perceive that it was time for her to go, 
partly from the fact that she was no longer wanted so much, 
and partly from finding in herself certain conditions of feel- 
ing which she did not know what to do with. 

" Annie's coming back to you in a day or two, Mr. Bruce," 
said Mrs. Forbes, having called to pay some of her interest, 
and wishing to prepare the way for her return. " She has 
been with me a long time, but you know she was ill, and I 
could not part with her besides." 

" Weel, mem," answered Bruce, " we'll be verra happy to 
tak' her hame again, as sune's ye hae had a' the use ye want 
o' her." 

He had never assumed this tone before, either to Mrs. 
Forbes or with regard to Annie. But she took no notice 
of it. 

Both Mr. and Mrs. Bruce received the girl so kindly that 
she did not know what to make of it. Mr. Bruce especially 
was all sugar and butter — rancid butter of course. When 
she went up to her old rat-haunted room, her astonishment 
was doubled. For the holes in floor and roof had been 
mended ; the sky-light was as clean as glass a hundred years 
old could be ; a square of carpet lay in the middle of the 
floor; and check-curtains adorned the bed. She concluded 
these luxuries had been procured for Mr. Cupples, but could 
not understand how they came to be left for her. 

Nor did the consideration shown her decrease after the 
first novelty of her return had worn off ; and altogether the 
main sources of her former discomfort had ceased to flow. 
The baby had become a sweet-tempered little girl ; Johnny 
was at school all day ; and Robert was a comparatively well- 
behaved, though still sulky youth. He gave himself great 
airs to his former companions, but to Annie he was conde- 
scending. He was a good student, and had the use of the 
room for a study. 

Robert Bruce the elder had disclosed his projects to his 
heir, and he had naturally declined all effort for their real- 
ization. But he began at length to observe that Annie had 
grown very pretty ; and then he thought it would be a nice 
thing to fall in love with her, since, from his parents' wishes 



408 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

to that end, she must have some money. Annie, however, 
did not suspect any thing, till, one day, she heard the elder 
say to the younger: 

" Ye dinna push, man. Gang benn to the chop and get a 
cnottie o' reid candy-sugar, and gie her that the neist time 
ye see her her lane. The likes o' her kens what that means. 
And gin she tak's 't frae ye, ye may hae the run o' the 
drawer. It's worth while, ye ken. Them 'at winna saw 
winna reap." 

From that moment she was on her guard. Nor did she 
give the youth a chance of putting his father's advice into 
operation. 

Meantime Alec got better and better, went out with Mr. 
Cupples in the gig, ate like an ogre, drank like a hippopota- 
mus, and was rapidly recovering his former strength. As he 
grew better, his former grief did draw nearer, but such was 
the freshness of his new life, that he seemed to have died 
and risen again like Lazarus, leaving his sorrow behind him 
in the grave, to be communed with only in those dim seasons 
when ghosts walk. 

One evening over their supper, he was opposing Mr. Cup- 
ples's departure for the twentieth time. At length the latter 
said : 

" Alec, I'll bide wi' ye till the neist session upon ae con- 
dition." 

" What is that, Mr. Cupples ? " said Mrs. Forbes. " I 
shall be delighted to know it." 

" Ye see, mem, this young rascal here made a fule o' 
'msel' last session and didna pass ; and — " 

" Let bygones be bygones, if you please, Mr. Cupples," 
said Mrs. Forbes pleasantly. 

" 'Deed no, mem. What's the use o' byganes but to learn 
frae them hoo to meet the bycomes ? Ye'U please to hear 
me oot ; and gin Alec doesna like to hear me, he maun jist 
sit and hear me." 

" Fire away, Mr. Cupples," said Alec. 

" I will. — For them that didna pass i' the en' o' the last 
session, there's an examination i' the beginnin' o' the neist — 
gin they like to stan' 't. Gin they dinna, they maun gang 
throu the same classes ower again, and stan' the examina- 
tion at the end — that is, gin they want a degree ; and that's 
a terrible loss o' time for the start. Noo, gin Alec'll set to 
wark, like a man, I'll help him a' that I can ; and by the 
gatherin' again, he'll be up wi' the lave o' the fleet. Faith ! 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 409 

I'll sit like Deith i' the specter-bark, and blaw intil his sails 
a' that I can blaw. Maybe ye dinna ken that verse i' The 
Rhy)ne 0' the Ancient Mariner ? It was left cot o' the later 
editions : 

' A gust of wind sterte up behind, 
And whistled through his bones ; 

Through the holes of his eyes and the holes of his mouth, 
Half-whistles and half-groans,' 

There ! that's spicy — for them 'at likes ghaistry." 

That vexy day Alec resumed. Mr. Cupples would not let 
him work a moment after he began to show symptoms of 
fatigue. But the limit was moved further and further every 
day, till at length he could work four hours. His tutor 
would not hear of any further extension, and declared he 
would pass triumphantly. 

The rest of the summer-day they spent in wandering 
about, or lying in the grass, for it was a hot and dry summer, 
so that the grass was a very bed of health. Then came all 
the pleasures of the harvest. And when the evenings grew 
cool, there were the books that Mr. Cupples foraged for in 
Glamerton, seeming to find them by the scent. 

And Mr. Cupples tried to lead Alec into philosophical 
ways of regarding things ; for he had just enough of religion 
to get some good of philosophy — which itself is the religion 
of skeletons. 

" Ye see," he would say, " it's part o' the machine. What 
a body has to do is to learn what pinion or steam-box, or 
piston, or muckle water-wheel he represents, and stick to 
that, defyin* the deevil, whase wark is to put the machine 
oot o' gear. And sae he maun grin' awa', and whan Deith 
comes, he'll say, as Andrew Wylie did — ' Weel run, little 
wheelie ! ' and tak' him awa' wi' him some gait or ither, 
whaur, maybe, he may mak' choice o' his ain machine for 
the neist trial." 

" That's some cauld doctrine, Mr. Cupples," Alec would 
say. 

" Weel," he would return with a smile, '' gang to yer frien' 
Thamas Crann, and he'll gie ye something a hantle better. 
That's ane o' the maist extrornar men I ever made acquaint- 
ance wi'. He'll gie ye divine philosophy — a dooms sicht 
better nor mine. But, eh ! he's saft for a' that." 

Annie would have got more good from these readings 
than either of them. Mr. Cupples was puzzled to account 
for her absence, but came to see into the mother's defensive 



4IO ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

strategy, who had not yet learned to leave such things to 
themselves ; though she might have known by this time that 
the bubbles of scheming mothers, positive or negative, how- 
ever well-blown, are in danger of collapsing into a drop of 
burning poison. He missed Annie very much, and went 
often to see her, taking what books he could. With one or 
the other of these she would wander along the banks of the 
clear brown Glamour, now watching it as it subdued its rocks 
or lay asleep in its shadowy pools, now reading a page or 
two, or now seating herself on the grass, and letting the dove 
of peace folds its wings upon her bosom. Even her new 
love did not more than occasionally ruffle the flow of her 
inward river. She had long cherished a deeper love, which 
kept it very calm. Her stillness was always wandering into 
prayer ; but never did she offer a petition that associated 
Alec's fate with her own ; though sometimes she would find 
herself holding up her heart like an empty cup which knew 
that it was empty. She missed Tibbie Dyster dreadfully. 

One day, thinking she heard Mr. Cupples come up stairs, 
she ran down with a smile on her face, which fell off it like 
a withered leaf when she saw no one there but Robert the 
student. He, taking the smile for himself, rose and 
approached her with an ugly response on his heavy coun- 
tenance. She turned and flew up again to her room ; whither 
to her horror he followed her, demanding a kiss. An ordi- 
nary Scotch maiden of Annie's rank would have answered 
such a request from a man she did not like with a box on the 
ear, tolerably delivered ; but Annie was too proud even to 
struggle, and submitted like a marble statue, except that she 
could not help wiping her lips after the salute. The youth 
walked away more discomfited than if she had made angry 
protestations, and a successful resistance. 

Annie sat down and cried. Her former condition in the 
house was enviable to this. — That same evening, without 
saying a word to any one, for there was a curious admixture 
of outward lawlessness with the perfect inward obedience 
of the girl, she set out for Clippenstrae, on the opposite 
bank of the Wan Water. It was a gorgeous evening. The 
sun was going down in purple and crimson, divided by such 
bars of gold as never grew in the mines of Ophir. A faint 
rosy mist hung its veil over the hills about the sunset ; and 
a torrent of red light streamed down the westward road by 
which she went. The air was soft, and the light sobered 
with a sense of the coming twilight. It was such an evening 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 41I 

as we have, done into English, in the ninth Evening Volun- 
tary of Wordsworth. And Annie felt it such. Thank God, 
it does not need a poetic education to feel such things. It 
needs a poetic education to say such things so that another, 
not seeing, yet shall see ; but that such a child as Annie 
should not be able to feel them, would be the one argument 
to destroy our belief in the genuineness of the poet's vision. 
For if so, can the vision have come from Nature's self ? 
Has it not rather been evoked by the magic rod of the poet's 
will from his own chambers of imagery ? 



CHAPTER LXXXn. 



When she reached Clippenstrae, she found that she had 
been sent there. Her aunt came from the inner room as 
she opened the door, and she knew at once by her face that 
Death was in the house. For its expression recalled the 
sad vision of her father's departure. Her great-uncle, the 
little gray-headed old cottar in the Highland bonnet, lay 
dying — in the Highland bonnet still. He was going to " the 
land o' the Leal " {loyal), the true-hearted, to wait for his 
wife, whose rheumatism was no chariot of fire for swiftness, 
whatever it might be for pain, to bear her to the " high 
countries." He has had nothing to do with our story, save 
that once he made our Annie feel that she had a home. 
And to give that feeling to another is worth living tor, and 
justifies a place in any story like mine. 

Auntie Meg's grief appeared chiefly in her nose ; but it was 
none the less genuine for that, for her nature was chiefly 
nose. She led the way into the death-room — it could hardly 
be called the sick-room — and Annie followed. By the bed- 
side sat, in a high-backed chair, an old woman with more 
wrinkles in her face than moons in her life. She was per- 
fectly calm, and looked like one, already half-across the 
river, watching her friend as he passed her toward the op- 
posing bank. The old man lay with his eyes closed. As 
soon as he knew that he was dying he had closed his eyes, 
that the dead orbs might not stare into the faces of the 
living. It had been a whim of his for years. He would 
leave the house decent when his lease was up. And the 



412 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

will kept pressing down the lids which it would soon have 
no power to lift. 

" Ye're come in time," said Auntie Meg, and whispered 
to the old woman — " My brither Jeames's bairn." 

" Ay, ye're come in time, lassie," said the great-aunt 
kindly, and said no more. 

The dying man heard the words, opened his eyes, glanced 
once at Annie, and closed them again. 

" Is that ane o' the angels come ? " he asked, for his wits 
were gone a little way before. 

" Na, weel I wat ! " said the hard-mouthed, ungracious 
Meg. " It's Annie Anderson, Jeames Anderson's lass." 

The old man put his hand feebly from under the bed- 
clothes. 

" I'm glad to see ye, dawtie," he said, still without opening 
his eyes. " I aye wantit to see mair o' ye, for ye're jist sic 
a bairn as I wad hae likit to hae mysel' gin it had pleased the 
Lord. Ye're a douce, God-fearin' lassie, and He'll tak' care 
o' his ain." 

Here his mind began to wander again. 

" Marget," he said, " is my een steekit, for I think I see 
angels ? " 

" Ay are they — close eneuch." 

" Weel, that's verra weel. I'll hae a sleep noo." 

He was silent for some time. Then he reverted to the 
fancy that Annie was the first of the angels come to carry 
away his soul, and murmured brokenly : 

" Whan ye tak' it up, be carefu' hoo ye han'le 't, baith for 
it's some weyk, and for it's no ower clean, and micht blaud 
the bonnie white ban's o' sic God-servers as yersel's. I ken 
mysel' there's ae spot ower the hert o' 't, whilk cam o' an ill 
word I gied a bairn for stealin' a neep. But they did steal 
a hantle that year. And there's anither spot upo' the richt 
han', whilk cam' o' ower gude a bargain I made wi' auld 
John Thamson at Glass fair. And it wad never come oot 
wi' a' the soap and water — Hoots, I'm haverin' ! It's upo' 
the han' o' my soul, whaur soap and water can never come. 
Lord, dight it clean, and I'll gie him 't a' back whan I see 
him in thy kingdom. And I'll beg his pardon forbye. But 
I didna chait him a'thegither. I only tuik mair nor I wad 
hae gi'en for the colt mysel*. And min' ye dinna lat me fa', 
gaein' throu the lift." 

He went on thus, with wandering thoughts that in their 
wildest vagaries were yet tending homeward ; and which 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 413 

when least sound, were yet busy with the wisest of mortal 
business — repentance. By degrees he fell into a slumber, 
and from that, about midnight, into a deeper sleep. 

The next morning, Annie went out. She could not feel 
oppressed or sorrowful at such a death, and she would walk 
up the river to the churchyard where her father lay. The 
Wan Water was shallow, and therefore full of talk about all 
the things that were deep secrets when its bosom was fulL 
Along great portions of its channel, the dry stones lay like 
a sea beach. They had been swept from the hills in the tor- 
rents of its autumnal fury. The fish did not rise, for the 
heat made them languid. No trees sheltered them from 
the rays of the sun. Both above and below, the banks were 
rugged, and the torrent strong : but at this part the stream 
flowed through level fields. Here and there a large piece 
had cracked off and fallen from the bank, to be swept away 
in the next flood ; but meantime the grass was growing on 
it, greener than anywhere else. The corn would come close 
to the water's edge and again sweep away to make room for 
cattle and sheep ; and here and there a field of red clover 
lay wavering between shadow and shine. She went up a 
long way, and then crossing some fields, came to the church- 
yard. She did not know her father's grave, for no stone 
marked the spot where he sank in this broken earthly sea. 
There was no church : its memory even had vanished. It 
seemed as if the churchyard had swallowed the church as 
the heavenly light shall one day swallow the sun and the 
moon ; and the lake of divine fire shall swallow death and 
hell. She lingered a little, and then set out on her slow 
return, often sitting down on the pebbles, sea-worn ages 
before the young river had begun to play with them. 

Resting thus about half way home, she sang a song which 
she had found in her father's old song-book. She had said 
it once to Alec and Curly, but they did not care much for 
it, and she had not thought of it again till now. 

" Ane by ane they gang awa'. 
The gatherer gathers great an' sma'. 
Ane by ane maks ane an' a'. 

Aye whan ane is ta'en frae ane, 
Ane on earth is left alane, 
Twa in heaven are knit again. 

Whan God's hairst is in or lang, 
Golden-heidit, ripe, and thrang, 
Syne begins a better sang." 



414 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

She looked up, and Curly was walking through the broad 
river to where she sat. 

" I kent ye a mile aff, Annie," he said. 

" I'm glaid to see ye, Curly." 

" I wonner gin ye'll be as glaid to see me the neist time, 
Annie." 

Then Annie perceived that Curly looked earnest and 
anxious. 

" What do ye say. Curly ? " she returned. 

" I hardly ken what I say, Annie, though I ken what I 
mean. And I dinna ken what I'm gaun to say neist, but 
they say the trowth will oot. I wiss it wad, ohn a body 
said it." 

" What can be the maitter. Curly ? " — Annie was getting 
frightened — '' It maun be ill news, or ye wadna luik like 
that." 

" I doobt it'll be warst news to them that it's nae news 
till." 

" Ye speyk in riddles, Curly." 

He tried to laugh but succeeded badly, and stood before 
her, with downcast eyes, poking his thorn-stick into the 
mass of pebbles. Annie waited in silence, and that brought 
it out at last. 

" Annie, when we war at the schule thegither, I wad hae 
gien ye ony thing. Noo I hae gien ye a' thing, and my hert 
to the beet {boot) o" the bargain." 

" Curly ! " said Annie, and said no more, for she felt as if 
her heart would break. 

" I likit ye at the schule, Annie ; but noo there's naething 
i' the warl but you." 

Annie rose gently, came close to him, and laying a hand 
on his arm, said, 

" I'm richt sorry for ye, Curly." 

He half turned his back, was silent for a moment, and 
then said coldly, but in a trembling voice, 

" Dinna distress yersel'. We canna help it." 

" But what'U ye do, Curly ? " asked Annie in a tone full 
of compassionate loving-kindness, and with her hand still 
on his arm. " It's sair to bide." 

" Gude kens that. — I maun jist warstle throu' 't like mony 
anither. I'll awa' back to the pig-skin saiddle I was 
workin' at," said Curly, with a smile at the bitterness of his 
fate. 

" It's no that I dinna like ye, Curly. Ye ken that. I wad 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 415 

do onything for ye that I cud do. Ye hae been a gude 
frien' to me." 

And here Annie burst out crying. 

'* Dinna greit. The Lord preserve's ! dinna greit. I 
winna say anither word aboot it. What's Curly that sic a ane 
as you sud greit for him ? Faith ! it's nearhan' as guid as 
gin ye lo'ed me. I'm as prood's a turkey-cock," averred 
Curly in a voice ready to break with emotion of a very differ- 
ent sort from pride. 

" It's a sair thing that things winna gang richt ! " said 
Annie at last, after many vain attempts to stop the fountain 
by drying the stream of her tears. — I believe they were the 
first words of complaint upon things in general that she 
ever uttered. 

" Is't my wyte, Curly ? " she added. 

" Deil a bit o' 't ! " cried Curly. " And I beg yer pardon 
for sweirin'. Your wyte ! I was aye a fule. But maybe," 
he added, brightening a little, " I micht hae a chance — some 
day — some day far awa', ye ken, Annie ? " 

" Na, na, Curly. Dinna think o' 't. There's no chance 
for ye, dear Curly." 

His face flushed red as a peony. 

" That lick-the-dirt's no gaun to gar ye marry the colli- 
giner ? " 

** Dinna ye be feared that I'll marry ony body I dinna like, 
Curly." 

" Ye dinna like him, I houp to God ! " 

** I canna bide him." 

" Weel, maybe — Wha kens ? I daurna despair." 

" Curly, Curly, I maun be honest wi' you, as ye hae been 
wi' me. Whan ance a body's seen ane, they canna see 
anither, ye ken. Wha cud hae been at the schule as I was 
sae lang, and syne taen oot o' the water, ye ken, and 
syne — ?" 

Annie stopped. 

" Gin ye mean Alec Forbes — " said Curly, and stopped 
too. But presently he went on again — " Gin I war to come 
atween Alec Forbes and you, hangin' wad be ower gude for 
me. But has Alec — " 

" Na, nae a word. But hand yer tongue. Curly. Ance is 
a' wi' me. — It's nae mony lasses wad hae tell't ye sic a thing. 
But I ken it's richt. Ye're the only ane that has my secret. 
Keep it. Curly." 



4l6 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" Like Deith himsel','' said Curly. " Ye are a braw 
lass." 

" Ye maunna think ill o' me, Curly. I hae tell't ye the 
trowth." 

" Jist lat me kiss yer bonnie han' and I'll gang content." 

Wisely done or not, it was truth and tenderness that 
made her offer her lips instead. He turned in silence, com- 
forted for the time, though the comfort would evaporate long 
before the trouble would sink. 

" Curly ! " cried Annie, and he came back. 

" I think that's young Robert Bruce been to Clippenstrae 
to speir efter me. Dinna lat him come farther. He's an 
unceevil fallow." 

" Gin he wins by me, he maun hae mair feathers nor I 
hae," said Curly, and walked on. 

Annie followed slowly. When she saw the men meet she 
sat down. 

Curly spoke first, as he came up. 

" A fine day, Robbie," he said. 

Bruce made no reply, for relations had altered since 
school-days. It was an evil moment however in which to 
carry a high chin to Willie Macwha, who was out of temper 
with the whole world except Annie Anderson. He strode 
up to the colliginer. 

" I said it was a fine day," he repeated. 

" Well, I said nothing to the contrary," answered Bruce, 
putting on his English. 

" It's the custom i' this country to mak' what answer a 
man has the sense to mak' whan he's spoken till ceevily." 

" I consider you uncivil." 

" That's jist what a bonnie lassie sittin' yonner said aboot 
you whan she prayed me no to lat you gang a step nearer 
till her." 

Curly found it at the moment particularly agreeable to 
quarrel. Moreover he had always disliked Bruce, and now 
hated him because Annie had complained of him. 

" I have as much right to walk here as you or any one 
else," said Bruce. 

" Maybe ; but even colliginers doesna aye get their richts. 
Ae richt whiles rides upo' the tap o' anither. And Annie 
Anderson has a richt no to be disturbit, whan her uncle, 
honest man, 's jist lyin' waitin' for's coffin i' the hoose 
yonner." 

" I'm her cousin." 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 417 

) 

" It's sma' comfort ony o' yer breed ever brocht her. 
Cousin or no, ye sanna gang near her." 

" I'll go where I please," said Bruce, moving to pass. 

Curly moved right in front of him. 

" By me ye shanna gang. I hae lickit ye afore for bein' 
ill till her ; and I will again gin ye gang a step nearer till 
her. She doesna want ye. Faith I will ! But I wad 
raither no fecht afore her. Sae jist come back to the toon 
wi' me, and we'll say nae mair aboot it." 

" I'll see you damned ! " said Bruce. 

" Maybe ye may, bein' likely to arrive at the spot first. 
But i' the mean time, gin ye dinna want her to see ye lickit, 
come doon into yon how, and we'll jist sattle aff han' wha's 
the best man o' the twa." 

" I won't move a step to please you or any one else," 
returned Bruce. He saw that his safety consisted in keeping 
within sight of Annie. 

Curly saw on his part that, a few steps nearer to where 
Annie sat, the path led behind a stunted ash-tree. So he 
stepped aside with the proverb. 

" He that will to Coupar, maun to Coupar." 

Without deigning a word, Bruce walked on, full of pride, 
concluding that Curly's heart had failed him. But the 
moment he was behind the tree. Curly met him from the 
other side of it. Then Bruce's anger, not his courage, rose, 
and with an oath, he pushed against him to pass. But the 
sensation he instantly felt in his nose astonished him : and 
the blood beginning to flow cowed him at once. He put 
his handkerchief to his face, turned, and walked back to Gla- 
merton. Curly followed him at a few yards' distance, regret- 
ting that he had showed the white feather so soon, as, other- 
wise, he would have had the pleasure of thrashing him 
properly. He saw him safe in at the back-door, and then 
went to his own father's shop. 

After a short greeting, very short on Curly's part, 

" Hoot ! Willie," said his father, " what's come ower ye ? 
Ye luik as gin some lass had said na to ye." 

" Some lasses' tio 's better nor ither lasses' ay, father." 

" Deed maybe, laddie," said George ; adding to himself, 
"That maun hae been Annie Anderson — nae ither." 

He was particularly attentive and yielding to Willie dur- 
ing his short visit, and Willie understood it. 

Had Annie been compelled, by any evil chance, to return 
to the garret over Robert Bruce's shop, she would not indeed 



4l8 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

have found the holes in the floor and the roof reopened ; 
but she would have found that the carpet and the curtains 
were gone. 

The report went through Glamerton that she and Willie 
Macwha were coortin\ 



CHAPTER LXXXIII. 



Thomas Crann's conversation with Mr. Cupples deep- 
ened both his annoyance and his grief at the membership of 
Robert Bruce. What was the use of a church if such men 
as he got into it, and, having got in, could not be got out ? 
Had he been guilty of any open fault, such as getting 
drunk, for one solitary and accidental instance of which 
they had excluded one of their best and purest-minded 
men, they could have got rid of him with comparative ease : 
but who so free of fault as Bruce ? True, he was guilty of 
the crime of over-reaching whenever he had a chance, and 
of cheating when there was no risk of being found out — at 
least so every body believed — but he had no faults. The 
duty, therefore, that lay upon every member, next to the 
cleanness of his own garments — that of keeping the church 
pure and unspotted — was hard to fulfill, and no one was 
ready to undertake it but Thomas Crann. For what a spot 
was here ! And Thomas knew his Lord's will. 

Neither was the duty so unpleasant to Thomas's oppositive 
nature, as it would have been to a man of easier tempera- 
ment. 

" Jeames Johnstone," he said, "the kirk mak's nae prog- 
ress. It's no as i' the time o' the apostles whan the saved 
war added till't daily." 

" Weel, ye see," returned James, " that wasna oor kirk 
exac'ly ; and it wasna Mr. Turnbull that was the held o' 't." 

" It's a' the same. The prenciple's the same. An' Mr. 
Turnbull preaches the same gospel Peter and Paul praiched, 
and wi' unction too. And yet here's the congregation 
dwin'lin' awa', and the church itsel' like naething but bees 
efter the brunstane. / say there's an Ahchan i' the camp — 
a Jonah i* the vessel — a son o' Saul i' the kingdom o' 
Dawvid — a Judas amo' the twal' — a — " 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 419 

" Hoots ! Thomas Crann ; ye're no pittin' a' thae gran' 
names upo' that puir feckless body, Rob Bruce, are ye ? " 

" He's nane feckless for the deevil's wark or for his ain, 
which is ae thing and the same. Oot he maun gang, gin we 
tak' him by the scruff o' the neck and the doup o' the 
breeks." 

" Dinna jeist, Thomas, aboot sic a dangerous thing," said 
James, mildly glad of one solitary opportunity of rebuking the 
granite-minded mason. 

" Teist ! I'm far eneuch frae jeistin'. Ye dinna ken fer- 
vor frae jokin', Jeames Johnstone." 

** He micht tak' the law upo's for defamin' o' 's character ; 
and that wad be an awfu' thing for puir fowk like us, 
Thamas." 

" Aye the same thing ower again, Jeames ! Shy at a 
stane, and fa' into the stank {ditcJi). That's the pairt o' a 
colt and no o' a Christian." 

" But arena we tell't to be wise as serpents ? " 

*' Ye wad tak' a heap o' tellin' upo' that heid, Jeames." 

" Ow, 'deed ay! And I'm no my lane, Thamas. But 
we are tell't that." 

" The serpent turned oot an ill cooncelor upon ae occa- 
sion ower well to be remembert by Adam's race." 

" The words stan' as I say," persisted James. 

" Ye're no to mak' the serpent yer cooncelor, man. But 
ance ye ken yer duty, ye may weel tak' example by him hoo 
to carry 't oot. Did ye ever see an edder lyin' ower a stane 
as gin he was naething but a stick himsel', bidin' 's time ? 
That's me, i' the Scriptur' sense. I'm only bidin' till I see 
hoo. A body maunna do ill that gude may come, though 
wow ! it's a sair temptation whiles ; neither maun a body 
neglec' to do richt for fear that ill may follow." 

" Ay, true that. But ye needna burn the hoose to rid the 
rottans. I doot ye'U get's a' into ower het water ; and a 
body needna tak' the skin aff for the sake o' cleanliness. 
Jist tak' ye tent {care, atieniiofi), Thamas, what ye're 
aboot." 

Having thus persisted in opposing Thomas to a degree 
he had never dared before, James took his departure, pur- 
sued by the words 

" Tak' ye care, Jeames, that in savin' the richt han' ye 
dinna send the haill body to hell. It was aye yer danger. 
I never got bauld coonsel frae ye yet." 

" There's mair vertues i' the Bible nor courage, Thamas," 



420 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

retorted James, holding the outer door open to throw the 
sentence in, and shutting it instantly to escape with the last 
word. 

Thomas, abandoned to his own resources, meditated long 
and painfully. But all he could arrive at was the resolution 
to have another talk with Mr. Cupples. He might not be a 
Christian man, but he was an honest and trustworthy man, 
and might be able from his scholarship to give him some 
counsel. So he walked to Howglen the next day, and 
found him with Alec in the harvest-field. And Alec's 
reception of Thomas showed what a fine thing illness is for 
bringing people to their right minds. 

Mr. Cupples walked aside with Thomas, and they seated 
themselves on two golden sheaves at the foot of a stook. 

" What ye said to me the ither day, sir," began Thomas, 
" has stucken fest i' my crap, ever sin' syne. We maun hae 
him oot." 

" Na, na ; ye better lat him sit. He'll haud doon yer 
pride. That man's a judgment on ye for wantin' to be 
better nor yer neebors. Dinna try to win free o' judgment. 
But I'll tell ye what I wad hae ye do : Mak' muckle o' 'm. 
Gie him tether eneuch. He'll gang frae ill to waur, ye may 
depen'. He'll steal or a' be dune." 

" To the best o' my belief, sir, that's no to come. He's 
stolen already, or I'm sair mista'en." 

" Ay ! Can ye pruv that ? That's anither maitter," 
returned Cupples, beginning to be interested. 

" I dinna ken whether I oucht to hae mentioned it to ane 
that wasna a member, though ; but it jist cam' oot o' 'tsel' 
like." 

" Sae the fac' that a man's a member wha's warst crime 
may be that he is a member, mak's him sic precious gear 
that he maunna be meddlet wi' i' the presence o' an honest 
man, wha, thank God, has neither pairt nor lot in ony sic 
maitter?" 

" Dinna be angry, Mr. Cupples. I'll tell ye a' aboot it," 
pleaded Thomas, than who no man could better recognize 
good sense. 

But the Cosmo Cupples who thus attracted the confidence 
of Thomas Crann was a very different man from the Cosmo 
Cupples whom first Alec Forbes went to the garret to see at 
his landlady's suggestion. All the flabbiness had passed 
from his face, and his eyes shone clearer than ever from a 
clear complexion. His mouth still gave a first impression 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 421 

of unsteadiness ; no longer, however, from the formlessness 
of the loose lips, but from the continual flickering of a nas- 
cent smile that rippled their outline with long wavy motions 
of evanescent humor. His dress was still careless, but no 
longer neglected, and his hand was as steady as a rifleman's. 

Nor had he found it so hard to conquer his fearful habit 
as even he had expected ; for with every week passed in 
bitter abstinence, some new well would break from the rich 
soil of his intellect, and irrigate with its sweet waters the 
parched border land between his physical and psychical 
being. And when he had once again betaken himself to 
the forsaken pen, there was little reason to fear a relapse or 
doubt a final victory. A playful humanity radiated from 
him, the result of that powerfuUest of all restoratives — 
giving of what one has to him who has not. Indeed his 
reformation had begun with this. St. Paul taught a thief to 
labor, that he might have to give : Love taught Mr. Cupples 
to deny himself that he might rescue his friend ; and 
presently he had found his feet touching the rock. If he 
had not yet learned to look '' straight up to heaven," his 
eyes wandered not unfrequently toward that spiritual hori- 
zon upon which things earthly and things heavenly meet 
and embrace. 

To such a Cosmo Cupples, then, Thomas told the story 
of Annie Anderson's five-pound note. As he spoke, 
Cupples was tormented as with the flitting phantom of a 
half-forgotten dream. All at once, light flashed upon him, 

"And sae what am I to do?" asked Thomas as he fin- 
ished his tale. — " I can pruv naething ; but I'm certain 
i' my ain min', kennin' the man's nater, that it was that note 
he tuik oot o' the Bible." 

" I'll put the proof o' that same into yer ban's, or I'm 
sair mista'en," said Mr. Cupples. 

" You, Mr. Cupples?" 

" Ay, me, Mr. Crann. But maybe ye wadna tak' proof 
frae sic a sinner against sic a sanct, Sae ye may keep yer 
sanct i' yer holy boasom." 

" Dinna gang on that gait, Mr. Cupples. Gin ye can 
direc' me to the purification o' our wee bit temple, I'll 
hearken heumbly. I only wiss ye war ane o' us." 

" I'll bide till ye hae gotten rid o' Bruce, ony gait. — I care 
naething for yer sma' separatist kirkies. — I wonner ye dinna 
pray for a clippin' o' an old sun that ye micht do withoot 
the common daylicht. But I do think it's a great shame — 



422 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

that sic a sneak sud be i' the company o' honest fowk, as I 
tak' the maist o' ye to be. Sae I'll do my best. Ye'll hear 
frae me in a day or twa." 

Cupples had remembered the inscription on the fly-leaf 
of the big Bible, which, according to Thomas Crann, Mr. 
Cowie had given to Annie. He now went to James Dow. 

" Did Annie ever tell ye aboot a Bible Mr. Cowie ga'e 
her, James?" 

" Ay did she. I min' *t fine." 

" Cud ye get a baud o' 't." 

" Eh ? I dinna ken. The crater has laid his ain cleuks 
upo' 't. It's a sod pity that Annie's oot o' the house, or she 
micht hae stown't [stolen it)." 

" Truly, bein' her ain, she micht. But ye're a kin' o' a 
guairdian till her — arena ye ? " 

" Ow ! ay. I hae made mysel' that in a way ; but Bruce 
wad aye be luikit upon as the proper guairdian." 

*' Hae ye ony baud upo' the siller ? " 

" I gart him sign a lawyer's paper aboot it." 

" Weel, ye jist gang and demand the Bible, alang wi' the 
lave o' Annie's property. Ye ken she's had trouble aboot 
her kist {chest), and canna get it frae the swallowin' cratur. 
And gin he maks ony demur, jist drap a hint o' gaein' to 
the lawyer aboot it. The like o' him's as fleyt at a lawyer 
as cats at cauld water. Get the Bible we maun. And ye 
maun fess't to me direckly." 

Dow was a peaceable man, and did not much relish the 
commission. Cupples, thinking he too was a missionar, 
told him the story. 

" Weel," said Dow, " lat him sit there. Maybe they'll 
baud him frae doin' mair mischeef. Whan ye jabble a 
stank, the stink rises." 

" I thocht ye was ane o' them. Ye maunna lat it oot." 

'* Na, na. I s' baud my tongue." 

" / care naething aboot it. But there's Thamas Crann 
jist eatin' his ain hert. It's a sin to lat sic a man live in sic 
distress." 

" 'Deed is't. He's a gude man that. And he's been 
verra kin' to oor Annie, Mr, Cupples. — I'll do as ye say. 
Whan do ye want it ? " 

" This verra nicht." 

So after his day's work, which was hard enough at this 
season of the year, was over, James Dow put on his blue 
Sunday coat, and set off to the town. He found Robert 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 423 

Bruce chaffering with a country girl over some butter, for 
which he wanted to give her less than the market value. 
This roused his indignation, and put him in a much fitter 
mood for an altercation. 

" I winna gie ye mair nor fivepence. Hoo are ye the day, 
Mr. Doo ? I tell ye it has a goo [Fren. goAf) o' neeps or 
something waur." 

" Hoo can that be, Mr. Bruce, at this sizzon o* the year, 
whan there's plenty o' gerss for man an' beast an' a' 
cratur?" said the girl. 

" It's no for me to say hoo it can be. That's no my 
business. Noo, Mr. Doo ? " 

Bruce, whose very life lay in driving bargains, had a great 
dislike to any interruption of the process. Yet he forsook 
the girl as if he had said all he had to say, and turned to 
James Dow. For he v/anted to get rid of him before con- 
cluding his bargain with the girl, whose butter he was 
determined to have even if he must pay her own price for 
it. Like the Reeve in the Canterbury Tales, who " ever 
rode the hinderest of the rout," being such a rogue-catcher 
that he could not bear any body behind his back, Bruce, 
when about the business that his soul loved, eschewed 
the presence of any third person. 

" Noo, Mr. Doo ? " he said. 

" My business'll keep," replied Dow. 

" But ye see we're busy the nicht, Mr. Doo." 

" Weel, I dinna want to hurry ye. But I wonner that ye 
wad buy ill butter, to please ony body, even a bonnie lass like 
that." 

" Some fowk likes the taste o' neeps, though I dinna like 
it mysel', " answered Bruce. " But the fac' that neeps is no 
a favorite wi' the maist o' fowk, brings doon the price i' 
the market." 

" Neeps is neither here nor there," said the girl ; and 
taking up her basket, she was going to leave the shop. 

" Bide a bit, my lass," cried Bruce. " The mistress wad 
like to see ye. Jist gang benn the hoose to her wi' yer 
basket, and see what she thinks o' the butter. I may be 
wrang, ye ken." 

So saying he opened the inner door, and ushered the 
young woman into the kitchen. 

" Noo, Mr. Doo ?" he said once more. " Is't tobawco, or 
sneeshin {snuff), or what is't ? ' 

" It's Annie Anderson's kist and a' her gear." 



424 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" I'm surprised at ye, Jeames Doo. There's the lassie's 
room up the stair, fit for ony princess, whanever she likes to 
come back till't. But she was aye a royt {riotous) lassie, an' 
a reg'lar rintheroot." 

" Ye lee, Rob Bruce," exclaimed Dow, surprised out of 
his proprieties. " Whaever ye say that till, dinna say't to 
me." 

Bruce was any thing but a quarrelsome man with other 
than his inferiors. He pocketed the lie very calmly. 

" Dinna lowse yer temper, Mr. Doo. It's a sair fau't 
that." 

" Jist ye deliver up the bairn's effecks, or I'll gang to them 
that'll gar ye." 

*' Wha micht that be, Mr. Doo ? " asked Bruce, wishing 
first to find out how far Dow was prepared to go. 

" Ye hae no richt whatever to keep that lassie's claes, as 
gin she aucht {cnved) you ony thing for rent." 

" Hae 7^ ony richt to tak' them awa' ? Hoo ken I what'll 
come o* them ? " 

" Weel, I s' awa' doon to Mr. Gibb, and we'll see what can 
be dune there. It's weel kent ower a' Glamerton, Mr. 
Bruce, in what mainner you and yer haill hoose hae borne 
yersel's to that orphan lassie ; and I'll gang into ilka chop, 
as I gang doon the street, that is, whaur I'm acquaint, and 
I'll jist tell them whaur I'm gaun, and what for." 

The thing which beyond all others Bruce dreaded was 
unremunerative notoriety. 

" Hoots ! Jeames Doo, ye dinna ken jokin' frae jeistin'. 
I never was the man to set mysel' i' the face o' ony thing 
rizzonable. But ye see it wad be cast up to the haill o' 's 
that we had driven the puir lassie oot o' the hoose, and 
syne flung her things after her." 

" The tane ye hae dune. The tither ye shanna do, for 
I'll tak' them. And I'll tell ye what fowk'U say gin ye dinna 
gie up the things. They'll say that ye baith drave her awa' 
and keepit her bit duds. I'll see to that — ami mairforbyey 

Bruce understood that he referred to Annie's money. 
His object in refusing to give up her box had been to retain 
as long as possible a chance of persuading her to return to 
his house ; for should she leave it finally, her friends might 
demand the interest in money, which at present he was 
bound to pay only in aliment and shelter, little of either of 
which she required at his hands. But here was a greater 
danger still. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 425 

" Mother," he cried, " pit up Miss Anderson's claes in her 
box to gang wi' the carrier the morn's mornin'." 

" I'll tak' them wi' me," said Dow resolutely. 

" Ye canna. Ye haena a cairt." 

" Ye get them pitten up, and I'll fess a barrow," said 
James, leaving the shop. 

He borrowed a wheelbarrow from Thomas Crann, and 
found the box ready for him when he returned. The 
moment he lifted it, he was certain from the weight of the 
poor little property that the Bible was not there. 

"Ye haena pitten in Mr. Cooie's Bible." 

" Mother ! did ye pit in the Bible ? " cried Bruce, for the 
house-door was open. 

" 'Deed no, father. It's better whaur't is," said Mrs. 
Bruce from the kitchen, with a shrill response. 

" Ye see, Mr. Doo, the Bible's lain sae lang there, that 
it's jist oor ain. And the lassie canna want it till she has a 
faimily to hae worship wi'. And syne she s' be welcome to 
tak' it." 

"Ye gang up the stair for the bulk, or I'll gangmysel'." 

Bruce went and fetched it, with a bad grace enough, and 
handed over with it the last tattered remnants of his respec- 
tability into the hands of James Dow. 

Mr. Cupples, having made a translation of the inscrip- 
tion, took it to Thomas Crann. 

" Do ye min' what Bruce read that nicht ye saw him tak' 
something oot o* the beuk ? " he asked as he entered. 

" Ay, weel that. He began wi' the twenty-third psalm, 
and gaed on to the neist." 

" Weel, read that. I faun' 't on a blank leaf o' the bulk." 
Thomas read — " Over the twenty-third psalm of David I 
have laid a five-pound jiote for my dear Annie Anderson, after 
viy death,'" — and lifting his eyes, stared at Mr. Cupples, his 
face slowly brightening with satisfaction. Then a cloud 
came over his brow — for was he not rejoicing in iniquity ? 
At least he was rejoicing in coming shame. 

" Hoo cud it hae been," he asked after a brief pause, 
" that Bruce didna fa' upo' this, as weel's you, Mr. Cupples, 
or didna scart it oot ? " 

" 'Cause 'twas written in Latin. The body hadna the wit 
to misdoot the contents o' 't. It said naething //// him, and 
he never thoucht it cud say ony thing aboot him." 
" It's a fine thing to be a scholar, Mr. Cupples." 
" Ay, whiles." 



426 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

" They say the Miss Cowies are great scholars." 

" Verra likly. — But there's ae thing mair I wad put ye up 
till. Can ye tell the day o' the month that ye gaed hame wi' 
yer prayin' frien' ? " 

** It was the nicht o' a special prayer-meetin' for the state 
o' Glamerton. I can fin' oot the date frae the kirk-buiks. 
What am I to do wi' 't whan I hae't, sir ? " 

" Gang to the bank the body deals wi', and spier whether 
a note beirin' the nummer o' thae figures was paid intil 't 
upo' the Monday foUowin' that Sunday, and wha paid it. 
They'll tell ye that at ance." 

But for various reasons, which it is needless to give in this 
history, Thomas was compelled to postpone the execution 
of his project. And Robert went on buying and selling and 
getting gain, all unaware of the pit he had digged for him- 
self. 



CHAPTER LXXXIV. 



One Sunday morning Mr. Cupples was returning from 
church with Alec. 

" Ye likit the sermon the day, Mr. Cupples." 

" What gars ye think that ? " 

" I saw ye takin' notes a' the time." 

" Gleg-eed mole ! " said Mr. Cupples. " Luik at the 
notes as ye ca' them." 

" Eh ! it's a sang ! " exclaimed Alec with delight. 

" What cud gar ye think I likit sic havers ? The crater 
was preachin' till's ain shaidow. And he put me into sic an 
unchristian temper o' dislike to him and a' the concern, that 
I ran to my city o' refuge. I never gang to the kirk wi'oot 
it — I mean my pocket-buik. And I tried to gie birth till a 
sang, the quhilk, like Jove, I conceived i' my heid last 
nicht." 

" Lat me luik at it," said Alec, eagerly. 

" Na, ye wadna mak' either rhyme or rizzon o' 't as it 
Stan's. I'll read it to ye." 

" Come and sit doon, than, on the itherside o' the dyke." 

A dyke in Scotland is an earthen fence — to my prejudiced 
mind, the ideal of fences ; because, for one thing, it never 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 427 

keeps any body out. And not to speak of the wild bees* 
bykes in them, with their inexpressible honey, like that of 
Mount Hymettus — to the recollection of the man, at least — 
they are covered with grass, and wild flowers grow all about 
them, through which the wind harps and carps over your 
head, filling your sense with the odors of a little modest 
yellow tufty flower, for which I never heard a name in Scot- 
land : the English call it Ladies' Bedstraw. 

They got over the dyke into the field and sat down. 

" Ye see it's no lickit eneuch yet," said Mr. Cupples, and 
began. 

" O lassie, ayont the hill ! 

Come ower the tap o' the hill ; 
Or roun' the neuk o' the hill ; 
For I want ye sair the nicht. 

I'm needin' ye sair the nicht. 
For I'm tired and sick o' mysel'. 

A body's sel' 's the sairest weicht. 
O lassie, come ower the hill. 

Gin a body cud be a thocht o' grace, 

And no a sel' ava ! 
I'm sick o' my heid and my ban's and my face. 

And my thouchts and mysel' and a'. 

I'm sick o' the warl' and a' ; 
The licht gangs by wi' a hiss ; 

For throu' my een the sunbeams fa'. 
But my weary hert they miss. 

O lassie, ayont the hill ! 
Come ower the tap o' the hill. 
Or roun' the neuk o' the hill, 
For I want ye sair the nicht. 

For gin ance I saw yer bonnie heid, 

And the sunlicht o' yer hair, 
The ghaist o' mysel' wad fa' doon deid. 

And I'd be mysel' nae mair. 

I wad be mysel' nae mair, 
Filled o' the sole remeid, 

Slain by the arrows o' licht frae yer hair. 
Killed by yer body and heid. 

O lassie, ayont the hill ! etc. 

But gin ye lo'ed me, ever so sma' 

For the sake o" my bonny dame, 
Whan I cam' to life, as she gaed awa', 

I could bide my body and name. 

I micht bide mysel', the weary same 



428 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

Aye settin' up its heid, 

Till I turn frae the claes that cover my frame. 
As gin they war roun' the deid, 

O lassie, ayont the hill ! etc. 

But g^n ye lo'ed me as I lo'e you, 

I wad ring my ain deid knell ; 
Mysel' wad vanish, shot through and through 

By the shine o' your sunny sel'. 

By the shine o' your sunny sel', 
By the licht aneath your broo, 

I wad dee to mysel', and ring my bell, 
And only live in you. 

O lassie, ayont the hill ! 

Come ower the tap o the hill, 
Or roun' the neuk o' the hill. 

For I want ye sair the nicht. 

I'm needin' ye sair the nicht, 
For I'm tired and sick o' mysel ; 

A body's sel' "s the sairest weicht ! 
O lassie, come ower the hill. 

" Isna it raither metapheesical, Mr. Cupples ? " asked Alec. 

" Ay is't. But fowk's metapheesical. True, they dinna 
aye ken't. I wad to God I cud get that sel' o' mine safe 
aneath the yird, for it jist torments the life oot o' me wi' its 
ugly face. Hit and me jist stan's and girns at ane anither." 

" It'll tak' a heap o' Christianity to lay that ghaist, Mr. 
Cupples. That I ken weel. The lassie wadna be able to 
do't for ye. It's ower muckle to expec' o' her or ony mortal 
woman. For the sowl's a temple biggit for the Holy Ghost, 
and no woman can fill't, war she the Virgin Mary ower again. 
And till the Holy Ghost comes intil's ain hoose, the ghaist 
that ye speak o' winna gang oot." 

A huge form towered above the dyke behind them. 

" Ye had no richt to hearken, Thomas Crann," said Mr. 
Cupples. 

" I beg your pardon," returned Thomas ; " I never thoucht 
o' that. The soun' was saebonnie, I jist stud and hearkened. 
I beg your pardon. — But that's no the richt thing for the 
Sawbath day." 

" But ye're haeing a walk yersel', it seems, Thomas." 

" Ay ; but I'm gaun ower the hills to my school. An' I 
maunna bide to claver wi' ye, for I hae a guid twa hoors' 
traivel afore me." 

" Come hame wi' us, and hae a mou'fu' o' denner afore ye 
gang, Thomas," said Alec. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 429 

" Na, I thank ye. It does the sowl gude to fast a wee ae 
day in saiven. I had a piece, though, afore I cam' awa'. 
What am I braggin' o' ! Gude day to ye." 

" That's an honest man. Alec," said Cupples. 

" He is," returned Alec. " But he will never do as other 
people do." 

" Perhaps that's the source of his honesty — that he walks 
by an inward light," said Cupples thoughtfully. 

The year wore on. Alec grew confident. They returned 
together to their old quarters. Alec passed his examinations 
triumphantly, and continued his studies with greater vigor 
than before. Especially he walked the hospitals with much 
attention and interest, ever warned by Cupples to beware 
lest he should come to regard man as a physical machine, 
and so grow a mere doctoring machine himself. 

Mr. Eraser declined seeing him. The old man was in a 
pitiable condition, and indeed never lectured again. 

Alec no more frequented his old dismal haunt by the sea- 
shore. The cry of the drowning girl would not have come to 
him as it would to the more finely nervous constitution of 
Mr. Cupples ; but the cry of a sea-gull, or the wash of the 
waves, or even the wind across the tops of the sand-hills, 
would have been enough to make him see in every crest 
which the wind tore white in the gloamin', the forlorn figure 
of the girl he loved vanishing from his eyes. 

The more heartily he worked the more did the evil as well 
as the painful portions of his history recede into the back- 
ground of his memory, growing more and more like the 
traces left by a bad, turbid, and sorrowful dream. 

Is it true that a// our experiences will one day revive in 
entire clearness of outline and full brilliancy of color, passing 
before the horror-struck soul to the denial of time, and the 
assertion of ever-present eternity ? If so, then God be with 
us, for we shall need him. 

Annie Anderson's great-aunt took to her bed directly 
after her husband's funeral. 

Einding there was much to do about the place, Annie felt 
no delicacy as to remaining. She worked harder than ever 
she had worked before, blistered her hands, and browned 
her fair face and neck altogether autumnally. Her aunt and 
she together shore {reaped) the little field of oats ; got the 
sheaves home and made a rick of them ; dug up the potatoes, 
and covered them in a pit with a blanket of earth ; looked 
after the one cow and calf which gathered the grass along 



43° ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

the road and river sides ; fed the pigs and the poultry, and 
even went with a neighbor and his cart to the moss, to howk 
(^4'') their winter store of peats. But this they found too 
hard for them, and were forced to give up. Their neigh- 
bors, however, provided their fuel, as they had often done 
in part for old John Peterson. 

Before the winter came there was little left to be done ; 
and Annie saw by her aunt's looks that she wanted to get 
rid of her. Margaret Anderson had a chronic, consuming 
sense of poverty, and therefore worshiped with her whole 
soul the monkey Lars of saving and vigilance. Hence 
Annie, as soon as Alec was gone, went with the simplicity 
belonging to her childlike nature, to see Mrs. Forbes, and 
returned to Clippenstrae only to bid them good-by. 

The bodily repose and mental activity of the winter formed 
a strong contrast with her last experiences. But the rainy, 
foggy, frosty, snowy months passed away much as they had 
done before, fostering, amongst other hidden growths, that 
of Mrs. Forbes' love for her semi-protegee, whom, like 
Castor and Pollux, she took half the year to heaven, and 
sent the other half to Tartarus. One notable event, how- 
ever, of considerable importance in its results to the people 
of Howglen, took place this winter among the missionars of 
Glamerton. 



CHAPTER LXXXV. 



So entire was Thomas Crann's notion of discipline, that it 
could not be satisfied with the mere riddance of Robert 
Bruce. Jealous, therefore, of encroachment on the part of 
minister or deacons, and opposed by his friend James John- 
stone, he communicated his design to no one ; for he knew 
that the higher powers, anxious to avoid scandal wherever 
possible, would, instead of putting the hypocrite to shame 
as he deserved, merely send him a civil letter, requesting 
him to withdraw from their communion. After watching 
for a fit opportunity, he resolved at length to make his 
accusation against Robert Bruce in person at an approach- 
ing church-meeting, at which, in consequence of the expected 
discussion of the question of the proper frequency of the 
administration of the sacrament, a full attendance of mem- 
bers might be expected. 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 43I 

They met in the chapel, which was partially lighted for 
the occasion. The night was brilliant with frosty stars, as 
Thomas walked to the rendezvous. He felt the vigor of the 
season in his yet unsubdued limbs, but as he watched his 
breath curling in the frosty air, and then vanishing in the 
night, he thought how the world itself would pass away 
before the face of Him that sat on the great white throne ; 
and how the missionars of Glamerton would have nothing 
to say for themselves on that day, if they did not purify 
themselves in this. From the faint light of the stars he 
passed into the dull illumination of the tallow candles, and 
took his place in silence behind the snuffer, who, though 
half-witted, had yet shown intelligence and piety enough for 
admission into the community. The church slowly gathered, 
and at length Mr. Turnbull appeared, supported by his 
deacons. 

After the usual preliminary devotions, in which Robert 
Bruce "engaged," the business of the meeting was solemnly 
introduced. The only part which Thomas Crann took in it 
was to expostulate with the candle-snuffer, who being vio- 
lently opposed to the wishes of the minister, and not daring 
to speak, kept grumbling in no inaudible voice at every 
thing that came from that side of the house. 

" Hoot, Richard ! it's Scriptur', ye ken," said Thomas, 
soothingly. 

" Scriptur' or no Scriptur', we're nae for't," growled 
Richard aloud, and rising, gave vent to his excited feelings 
by snuffing out and relighting every candle in its turn. 

At length the further discussion of the question was post- 
poned to the next meeting, and the minister was preparing 
to give out a hymn, when Thomas Crann's voice arose in 
the dusky space. Mr. Turnbull stopped to listen, and there 
fell an expectant silence ; for the stone-mason was both 
reverenced and feared. It was too dark to see more than 
the dim bulk of his figure, but he spoke with slow emphasis, 
and every word was heard. 

" Brethren and office-beirers o' the church, it's upo' disci- 
pline that I want to speak. Discipline is ane o' the main 
objec's for which a church is gathered by the speerit o' God. 
And we maun work discipleen amo' oursel's, or else the rod 
o' the Almichty'll coom doon upon a' oor backs. I winna 
haud ye frae the particulars ony langer. — Upon a certain 
Sawbath nicht i' the last year, I gaed into Robert Bruce's 
hoose, to hae worship wi' 'm. — I'm gaein' straucht and fair 



432 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

to the pint at ance. When he opened the bulk, I saw him slip 
something oot atween the leaves o' 't, and crunkle 't up in 
's han' luikin' his greediest. Syne he read the twenty-third 
and fourt psalms. I couldna help watchin' him, and whan 
we gaed down upo' oor k-nees, I luikit roon efter him, and 
saw him pit something intil's breek-pooch. Weel it stack to 
me. Efterhin {afterwards) I fand oot frae the lassie Annie 
Anderson, that the buik was hers, that old Mr. Cooie had 
gien 't till her upo' 's deith-bed, and had tell't her forbye 
that he had pitten a five poun' note atween the leaves o' 't, 
to be her ain in remembrance o' him like. What say ye to 
that, Robert Bruce?" 

" It's a lee," cried Robert, out of the dark back-ground 
under the gallery, where he always placed himself at such 
■aieetings, " gotten up atween yersel' and that ungratefu' 
cousin o' mine, Jeames Anderson's lass, wha I hae keepit 
like ane o' my ain." 

Bruce had been sitting trembling ; but when Thomas put 
the question, believing that he had heard all that Thomas 
had to say, and that there was no proof against him, he 
resolved at once to meet the accusation with a stout denial. 
Whereupon Thomas resumed : 

" Ye hear him deny't. Weel, I hae seen the said Bible 
mysel' ; and there's this inscription upo' ane o' the blank 
leaves o' 't : ' Over the twenty-third psalm o' David,' — I 
tell't ye that he read that psalm that night — ' Over the 
twenty-third psalm o' David, I hae laid a five poun' note 
for my dear Annie Anderson, efter my deith !' Syne fol- 
lowed the nummer o' the note, which I can shaw them that 
wants to see. Noo I hae the banker's word for statin' that 
upo' the very Monday mornin' efter that Sunday, Bruce 
paid into the bank a five poun' note o' that verra indentical 
nummer. What say ye to that, Robert Bruce ? " 

A silence followed. Thomas himself broke it with the 
words : 

" That money he oucht to hae supposed was Mr. Cooie's, 
and returned it till's dochters. But he pays't intil's ain 
accoont. Ca' ye na that a breach o' the eicht command- 
ment, Robert Bruce ? " 

But now Robert Bruce rose. And he spoke with solemnity 
and pathos. 

" Ifs a sair thing, sirs, that amo' Christians, wha ca' them- 
sel's a chosen priesthood and a peculiar people, a jined 
member o' the same church should meet wi' sic ill-guideship 



ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 433 

as I hae met wi' at the ban's o' Mr. Crann. To say naeth- 
ing o' his no bein' ashamed to confess bein' sic a heepocreet 
i' the sicht o' God as to luik aboot him upon his knees, lyin' 
in wait for a man to do him hurt whan he pretendit to be 
worshipin' wi' him afore the Lord his Maker, to say naeth- 
ing o' that which I wadna hae expeckit o' him, he gangs 
aboot for auchteen months contrivin' to bring that man to 
disgrace because he daurna mak' sic a strong profession as 
he mak's himsel'. But the warst o' 't a' is, that he beguiles 
a young thochtless bairn, wha has been the cause o' muckle 
discomfort in oor hoose, to jine him i' the plot. It's true 
eneuch that I took the bank-note frae the Bible, whilk was 
a verra unshuitable place to put the unrichteous mammon 
until, and min's me upo' the money-changers i' the temple ; 
and it's true that I paid it into the bank the neist day — " 

" What garred ye deny't, than ? " interrupted Thomas, 

" Bide a wee, Mr. Crann, and caw canny. Ye hae been 
hearkened till wi'oot interruption, and I maun hae fair play 
here whatever I get frae yersel'. I didna deny the fac', 
Wha could deny a fac' ? But I denied a' the haill affair, i' 
the licht o' wickedness and thievin' that Mr. Crann was 
castin' upo' 't. / saw that inscription and read it wi' my ain 
een the verra day the lassie brocht the beuk, and kenned as 
weel's Mr, Crann that the siller wasna to be taen hame 
again. But I said to mysel' : ' It'll turn the lassie's heid, 
and she'll jist fling't awa' in murlocks [crutnbs) upo' sweeties, 
and plunky, and sic like,' for she was aye greedy, ' sae I'll 
jist pit it into the bank wi' my ain, and accoont for't efter- 
hin wi' the lave o' her bit siller whan I gie that up intil her 
ain ban's. Noo, Mr. Crann ! " 

He sat down, and Mr. TurnbuU rose. 

" My Christian brethren," he said, " it seems to me that 
this is not the proper place to discuss such a question. It 
seems to me likewise ill-judged of Mr. Crann to make such 
an accusation in public against Mr. Bruce, who, I must say, 
has met it with a self-restraint and a self-possession most 
creditable to him, and has answered it in a very satisfactory 
manner. The hundredth psalm." 

" Hooly and fairly, sir ! " exclaimed Thomas, forgetting 
his manners in his eagerness. " I haena dune yet. And 
whaur wad be the place to discuss sic a question but afore 
a' meetin o' the church ? Ca' ye that the public, sir ? 
Wasna the church institute for the sake o' discipleen ? Sic 
things are no to be ironed oot in a hole an" a corner, atween 



434 ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN. 

you and the deycons, sir. They belang to the haill body. 
We're a' wranged thegither, and the Holy Ghost, whase 
temple we sud be, is wranged forby. You at least micht 
ken, sir, that he's withdrawn his presence frae oor mids', and 
we are but a candle under a bushel, and not a city set upon 
a hill. We beir no witness. And the cause o' his dis- 
pleesur' is the accursed thing which the Ahchan in oor camp 
has hidden i' the Coonty Bank, forby mony ither causes that 
come hame to us a'. And the warl' jist scoffs at oor profes- 
sion o' religion, whan it sees sic a man as that in oor mids'." 
" All this is nothing to the point, Mr. Crann," said Mr. 
TurnbuU in displeasure. 

" It's to the verra hert o' the pint," returned Thomas, 
equally displeased. *' Gin Robert Bruce saw the inscription 
the day the lassie broucht hame the buik, will he tell me hoo 
it was that he cam' to lea' the note i' the buik till that Saw- 
bath nicht ? " 

" I l